Friday, October 15, 2021

White House faces bipartisan backlash over Haitian migrants

WASHINGTON – The White House is facing fierce condemnation from Democrats for its handling of an influx of Haitian migrants along the US southern border, after photos of US Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics went viral this week. .

Striking videos of agents forcibly blocking their horses and relocating migrants attempting to cross the border have drawn sharp criticism from Democrats on Capitol Hill, a pandemic-era campaign to deport migrants from the Biden administration. Calling for an end to the use of the right. He had the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., an administration aide, said images of the treatment of migrants “turn their stomachs” and called on the administration to shut down the “disgusting and xenophobic” policies of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. did.

“The policies that are being implemented right now — and the horrible treatment of these innocent people coming to the border — must stop immediately,” Schumer told the Senate on Tuesday.

At the same time, the administration is facing attacks from Republicans who say Biden is not doing enough to deal with the “crisis” at the border.

Reflecting the urgency of the political problem for the administration, Homeland Security Chief Alejandro Meyercas said Tuesday that the images “horrified” him, a change in tone from a day earlier, when he and others spoke about the situation at the border. were more optimistic.

Meyerkas later announced that the agents involved had been placed on administrative duties until the outcome of the investigation. “The action we are taking is swift and strong, and we will take further action as the investigation is forced to include facts,” he said on Twitter.

It is an extremely uncomfortable situation for an administration led by a president that has established itself as a tonic for the harshness of its predecessor. But immigration is a complex issue that no administration has been able to fix in decades. And Biden is caught between the conflicting interests of broadcasting compassion while dealing with hordes of migrants arriving in the country – illegally – in search of a better life.

The provision, known as Title 42, was put in place by the Trump administration in March 2020 to justify restrictive immigration policies in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. But the Biden administration has used Title 42 to justify the deportation of Haitian immigrants, who in recent days have set up a camp in and around the small Texas town of Del Rio. This provision gives federal health officials the power to take extraordinary measures to limit the transmission of an infectious disease.

Late last week a federal judge called the regulation unfair and gave the government two weeks to halt its use, but the Biden administration appealed the decision on Monday.

Carla Marisol Vargas, senior Texas civil rights attorney, said: “The Biden administration pushing back this eviction moratorium is yet another example of broken promises to treat migrants with dignity and humanity when they seek asylum. reach our limits to exercise the fundamental right.” Project and co-consultant on Litigation.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson called for a meeting with Biden to discuss the situation and called the treatment of the Haitian migrants “absolutely ill”.

“The humanitarian crisis on the southern border under this administration disgustingly reflects some of the darkest moments in American history,” he said in a statement.

Soon after the judge’s ruling on Friday, Homeland Security officials worked against the clock, working against the clock, planning to immediately turn in groups of Haitian migrants. But people kept coming.

Trump essentially banned immigration. They reduced the number of refugees admitted to a record low, made major policy changes, and essentially closed asylum.

Biden has undone many Trump-era policies, but since his inauguration, the US has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people confronted by border officials. The Haitian diaspora is the latest example.

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More than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants have been removed from the camp in Del Rio, and Mayerkas predicts a “dramatic change” in the number of migrants there within the next two to four days as the administration continues the evacuation process.

As the controversy swirls around them, Biden spent his Tuesday address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, calling on the global community to come together to defend human rights and combat injustice around the world, “the future Will belong to those who embrace human dignity. Don’t trample it.”

The remark stood remarkably in contrast to images of Border Patrol agents on horseback. Asked by a reporter after the UN comment to offer his response to the images, Biden himself accepted the challenge of facing his administration with the challenge.

“We’ll get it under control,” he insisted.

Vice President Kamala Harris also told reporters in Washington that she was “deeply disturbed” by the images and planned to speak to Meyerkas about the situation. Harris is tasked with addressing the root causes of migration to the US, and stresses that the US must “support some of the very basic needs of the people of Haiti” which have led them to leave their homes for America. are running away.

Videos and photos taken in and around Del Rio in recent days show Border Patrol agents confronting Haitians near a border bridge near the Rio Grande, where thousands of migrants have gathered in hopes of entering the country.

A Border Patrol agent on horseback was seen dangerously twirling his long leather bridle over Haitian migrants, but did not actually hit anyone. There was no indication in the photos and videos seen by the Associated Press that mounted agents were carrying whips or using their bridles when confronting migrants.

Agents, wearing chaps and cowboy hats, forced their horses to forcibly block and move migrants, almost seemingly to herd them. In at least one instance, he was heard taunting migrants.

Asked about the images on Tuesday, Meyerkas told lawmakers that the issue was “top of my mind” ever since he saw them. He said the department has alerted its Inspector General’s office and directed that employees of the Professional Accountability Office be present round the clock in Del Rio.

“I was horrified when I saw the images, and we look forward to learning the facts associated with the investigation, and we will take action that compels those facts,” Meyerkas said. “We do not tolerate any abuse or mistreatment of a migrant. Period.”

Earlier, during a Monday news conference, both Meyerkas and Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz downplayed the incident, with Ortiz telling reporters that the agents were operating in a difficult and chaotic environment and needed to control their horses. Were trying to.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Mayerkas spoke on Monday before viewing the photos. “He believes it does not represent who we are as a country and does not represent the positions of the Biden-Harris administration,” Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.

Criticism was pouring in from members of Congress, including Representative Benny Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. He called on Mayorkas to “take immediate action to hold those responsible”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also demanded an inquiry.

Meanwhile, Republicans intensified their continued criticism of Biden’s approach to the border, with 26 Republican governors calling on the president to change his border policies.

“The crisis that started on the southern border has now spread beyond every state and requires immediate action before the situation worsens,” he said in a statement.

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