WASHINGTON — The sight of thousands of migrants from Haiti crowded in miserable conditions under a Texas bridge presents the Biden administration with a new challenge, one that highlights the real-world consequences of the ongoing impasse in Washington over immigration reform.
Images that seemed to show U.S. border guards using reins as whips against the Haitian migrants only added to the sense that the White House was once more overtaken by the rapidity of a worsening situation, as it had been after the fall of Kabul , when thousands of Afghans who had helped the United States rushed Hamid Karzai International Airport in hopes of escape.
Asked Monday about alleged treatment of Haitians seeking asylum in the United States by officers of Customs and Border Protection, White House press secretary Jen Psaki struggled to decry the particulars without also condemning the administration’s own position, which appears to leave little hope for the Haitians now huddled on the banks of the Rio Grande. A U.S. Border Patrol agent tries to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment in Del Rio, Texas, on Sunday. (Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images) “I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” Psaki responded. “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”
Haiti is in the midst of political upheaval caused by the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. A month later, a devastating earthquake killed thousands and left an estimated 40 percent of the population in some regions homeless.
The U.S. rebuffed calls from Haiti’s interim government to deploy troops to help secure the nation following the assassination of Moïse, but the Biden administration did send a military contingent to assist in response to the earthquake.
An estimated 12,000 migrants are now under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, which shares a border with Mexico. But their attempts to find asylum in the United States appear to be in vain, as the Biden administration has begun deporting some of the migrants back to Haiti.
“If Biden continues with these deportations, he’s no better than Trump,” one Haitian deportee told the Washington Post .