Democrats lash out at Biden administration over handling of Haitian migrants

Government officials are now facing internal divisions over how the migrants have been treated.

9/23/2021 5:50:00 AM

Some Democrats are lashing out at Biden administration over handling of Haitian migrants at U.S. southern border: “Haitian lives are Black lives, and if we truly believe that Black lives matter, then we must reverse course.'

Government officials are now facing internal divisions over how the migrants have been treated.

Biden faces backlash for border crisis in TexasTexas Gov. Greg Abbott sent state-owned vehicles to Del Rio to create a “steel wall” at the border. Democrats are angry the Biden administration used a Trump-era rule to allow deportations.Adrees Latif/Reuters

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Even as the Biden administration makes progress toward dispersing the large group of mostly Haitian nationals gathered in Del Rio, Texas, government officials are facing internal divisions over how the migrants have been treated."As we speak out against the cruel, the inhumane, and the flat out racist treatment of our Haitian brothers and sisters at the southern border we cannot and we must not look away in this moment," Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley said Wednesday.

Joined by a growing chorus of Democratic leaders in Congress, Pressley was referring to the striking images of Border Patrol agents on horseback confronting migrants and snapping their reins aggressively.Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty ImagesHaitian migrants cross the Rio Grande river to get food and water in Mexico, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico on Sept. 22, 2021. Clinging to ropes, some carrying children on their shoulders, Haitian migrants stranded at the US border cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico in search of food, water or medical treatment.

Some Democrats are also calling on the Biden administration to immediately stop repatriating the Haitians back to their island nation, citing concerns about safety. As of Wednesday afternoon, officials report there were just over 5,547 migrants left in the encampment under an international bridge in the South Texas town of Del Rio, as the Biden administration scrambles to track, process and remove the group that at one point ballooned to more than 14,000 people.

"Despite the Administration’s rapid deployment of personnel and resources in response to this crisis, much of the strategy to address the care of these vulnerable individuals is deeply concerning," Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson and Gregory W. Meeks said in a joint statement on Wednesday."Specifically, we urge the Administration to halt repatriations to Haiti until the country recovers from these devastating crises."

The Department of Homeland Security has a limited number of options after agents encounter unauthorized migrants in the border region. Some are referred to ICE custody for detention or deportation while many are released to U.S. resettlement organizations and given a future date to report or appear in court.

Ralph Tedy Erol/ReutersA Haitian migrant is calmed by Haitian authorities after U.S. authorities flew migrants out of a Texas border city after crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico, at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Sept. 21, 2021.

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DHS extended temporary protections for Haitian nationals over the summer. But it only moved the deadline to apply to July 29. That means those who have arrived more recently do not qualify for the Temporary Protected Status designation even if they fled Haiti before the deadline, and thay are subject to removal under what's called Title 42.

"We have looked at the country conditions and made a determination that in fact we can return individuals who've arrived," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.DHS provided a statement to ABC News Wednesday evening saying removal flights from Texas to Haiti will continue, noting that more than 1,000 migrants have already been flown back.

MORE: Migrant surge continues to test authorities in south TexasSince the beginning of the pandemic, the government has rapidly expelled hundreds of thousands of migrants from the U.S. under a decades-old part of the public health code known as Title 42. These expulsions have gravely concerned immigrant advocates who say the process cuts off access to the humanitarian protections some migrants are due.

Immigration officials have cited the protocols as a necessary tool in managing the migration challenges, but resources on the border have remained strained and agents have been pushed to their limits in an attempt to manage the influx in Del Rio.Julio Cortez/AP

Migrants, many from Haiti, wait to board a bus to Houston at a humanitarian center after they were released from United States Border Patrol upon crossing the Rio Grande and turning themselves in seeking asylum, Sept. 22, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.At the same time, images of the tactics used by Border Patrol agents on horseback have stirred outrage from Democrats, with some drawing connections to extremist views.

"Congress must do the work of investigating and ensuring accountability of the egregious and white supremacist behavior of border patrol agents in Del Rio Texas," Pressley said at the Wednesday press conference.Mayorkas addressed the images of the horse mounted patrol at the beginning of Wednesday’s House Homeland Security Committee hearing and reiterated that the agents in question won't be interacting with migrants while the agency investigates.

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"The facts will drive the actions that we take," Mayorkas said."We ourselves will pull no punches, and we need to conduct this investigation thoroughly, but very quickly."He said he expects the investigation to wrap up"in days and not weeks."

Mayorkas was pressed again Wednesday about providing data that explains what has happened to migrants after they've been arrested or detained by border officials. When asked repeatedly by Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida, he declined to provide specifics or estimations, citing concerns over accuracy.

"Congressman, I want to be precise in my communication of data to the United States Congress and to you specifically having posed the question," Mayorkas said.MORE: Biden admin outlines response to surge of Haitian migrants at borderWhite House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki was also questioned Wednesday on the lack of information coming out of DHS about where the Haitian nationals are ending up, including how many have been released into the U.S.

"I certainly understand why you're asking and understand why people have been asking Secretary Mayorkas," Psaki said."Those are numbers that are -- the secretary -- the Department of Homeland Security would have the most up-to-date numbers."

"But why is it so hard to keep track of a simple number like that?" asked ABC News White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega."Why can't you give it? Why can't he give it? It’s been two days now he's been asked that.""I'm certain they will provide it. It's an absolutely fair question to ask, and I'm certain he just wanted to have the most up-to-date numbers to provide," Psaki responded.

Julio Cortez/APOfficial vehicles line up along the bank of the Rio Grande near an encampment of migrants, many from Haiti, near the Del Rio International Bridge, Sept. 21, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Mayorkas on Tuesday, expressing her concerns about the treatment of migrants at the hands of agents for Border Patrol, a subdivision of the Department of Homeland Security.

Mayorkas promised her an update on the investigation into the incident involving Border Patrol agents on horseback and said the department is taking its obligations to provide humanitarian support seriously, according to a readout of the conversation from the vice president's office.

Read more: ABC News »

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Stop. Please stop. 80% of those Haitians were already living in Chile and Uruguay.nthey got a WhatsApp that the river border was completely open and headed to the USA. VERY IRRESPONSIBLE! They need to in a civilized way be taken back on planes to Haiti How about the black lives lost every week in Chicago? Do they matter?

Leave Texas alone go back to Massachusetts This is Brilliant, as the Dems begin to consume one another - popcorn please 🤣🤣🤣 Why so late in your comments were you having lunch at some fancy restaurant. Why not come up with a solution instead of complaining. The poor immigrants can complain for themselves. I have a idea do your job and pass reform.

She’s wrong Citizenship matters more. Did we admit Haiti or give Haitians privileges Puerto Ricans have? No. Stop all immigration now But silent on Biden killing kids with drones 🤷‍♂️ This is just a disaster waiting to happen between covid spiking again Afghanistan and Mexico and now Haiti is coming they the border that way in masses. Can’t allow it u wanna help send aid to there country. Don’t let them kill off more American Citizens.

The Biden Administration is what's wrong wit everything on Texas Southern Border. 'Hate, on horse back with whips, displaying their hateful, Inhumane treatment of 'Black Haitian Migrants,' something you don't see done to Mexican Migrants. 🇺🇸

Haitian migrants flown from border as pressure builds on BidenMexico and the United States were on Wednesday preparing to fly more Haitian migrants away from chaotic U.S.-Mexico border camps, as pressure mounted on U.S. President Joe Biden to stop expulsions of Haitians to their poor, disaster-hit homeland.

This have nothing to with Democrats… This happened in the borders of Texas states and their republican government now answers several infringement of human rights! I feel sorry for the Haitians because of the earthquakes, but the US can't take in everyone that wants to come here. The US should take a third, South America a third, and Central America a third. Too many quakes for people to live there. The border should be reinforced.

Yes and it’s ok to break the law👍🏻 these people are economic refugee.not eligible for asylum All lives matter. So should we just annex half of Africa? ... 🌹 😘 ... Who’s the bald chick with the false eyelashes? Let all the Haitians in, but do not give them any government assistance as long as they are illegal.

If it was white or another race they WOULDN'T say a word!!!!!!!!!!

Haitian Migrant Situation Drives Biden Into a Political CornerThe administration’s response to an influx of migrants at the border has Democrats and advocates calling on the White House to end the expulsions and Republicans seizing on the chance to paint Biden as inept. So confusing the way Biden is handling this.... not sure what is actually happening.

I believe Maxine only divides white and black Americans. It’s very easy to dislike/hate her. Excuse me. Didn’t Biden run on Black Lives Matter. He is the one putting them on airplanes and sending them back. 😐 um Now's the time for BLM to rise-up; help Haitians on US soil, Maltreatment of desperate people border should cause All blood to boil! Men/Women, Old/Young Chased with horses & Whips, Cries of Racism should Now be spilling from lips! Illegally here or not; Inhumanity's, A NOT!

Is calling someone black considered to be offensive in USA? STOP! Be Mad the Right People! Bless all

Outrage As Biden Administration Rapidly Deports Haitian Migrants From Texas BorderBorder Patrol agents were filmed on horseback whipping ropes at Haitian refugees attempting to cross into the U.S. But Trump... Sad Last roundup, Haitian style!

Biden slips into political quicksand amid Haitian migrant buildupThe thousands of Haitians massing at the U.S. southern border has put the Biden administration in the exact place it’s tried to avoid: knee deep in immigration politics That’s because the US is constantly destabilizing Haiti 🇭🇹. This is a self inflicted wound. The migration crisis on the southern border was mishandled since it started Problem is that Biden thinks the solution is to ignore the problem…he put VP Harris in charge…what is she doing about it? Most of these Haitians left Haiti years ago and have been living in South and Central America.

U.S. and Mexico fly Haitian migrants away from border as pressure builds on BidenMexico and the United States were on Wednesday preparing to fly more Haitian migrants away from chaotic U.S.-Mexico border camps, as pressure mounted on U.S. President Joe Biden to stop expulsions of Haitians to their poor, disaster-hit homeland. U.S. authorities have deported more than 500 Haitians since Sunday from a camp housing thousands of mostly Haitian migrants on the U.S. side of border, by the small Texan city of Del Rio. Such deportation flights back to Haiti would continue, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said. 500? What a joke.

NAACP demands meeting with Biden on treatment of Haitian refugeesThe National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is demanding a meeting with President Biden after controversial photos from the southern border showed Border Patrol agents rounding up Haitian illegal immigrants on horseback. The left are eating their own. Delicious! ImpeachBiden Ooops