Haitian Migrants Expelled From Border

Surina Ramoutar, News Editor

Attempted border crossings have increased dramatically over the last year and a half. The Trump administration began utilizing Title 42, an emergency public health order that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants, in March 2020, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has deported the vast majority of migrants captured at the border without first hearing their asylum claims. Title 42 has been upheld by the Biden administration, which retains restrictions on where and how refugees can seek asylum. CBP reported stopping 212,672 migrants, a 21 year high, at the border in July 2021.


In September, nearly 30,000 migrants were apprehended in Del Rio, Texas, by US Border Patrol agents. Unrest has erupted in response to widely circulated photographs of Border Patrol officers on horseback trampling and striking migrants in order to prevent them from crossing. The images of Border Patrol officers confronting migrants heightened public focus and has intensified pressure on the Biden administration to change its policy of using Title 42 to expel migrants. Activists have also claimed that Biden is not following through on his campaign promise to restore American responsibilities to aid migrants fleeing violence and instability. 


By September 24, federal officials had cleared a migrant encampment that had housed up to 15,000 Haitian migrants. According to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, 2,000 of the migrants were deported to Haiti on US-chartered flights, while 8,000 returned to Mexico voluntarily. 12,000 migrants were allowed to enter the United States, where their pleas for asylum or other petitions to remain in the country were assessed by US immigration judges. A further 5,000 migrants are being reviewed for the same opportunity.


Haiti has recently experienced new levels of political instability and natural disasters: earlier this year, mercenaries assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moise, and an earthquake killed over 2,000 people. Migration has always been fueled by corruption, poverty, and violence, and for most Haitians reaching the US-Mexico border, their arrival marks the culmination of a years-long struggle.


The Biden administration has made it apparent that deportation flights are being used to dissuade future arrivals. Officials have informed reporters that they believe deportees will share their stories and persuade others to not come to the borders once they arrive in Haiti.


Biden’s handling of immigration has received negative reviews in public polling so far. Leading Republicans have criticized the border’s instability, and some in the administration have argued that aggressive enforcement is necessary.