Haitians Meet the New Deporter-in-Chief

Photos of U.S. Border Patrol brokers supposedly whipping Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, went viral on-line in September. President Joe Biden responded by suspending horse patrols. However the images and subsequent reporting on them shortly got here beneath fireplace: The “whips,” it appeared, weren’t really whips.

The media kerfuffle diverted consideration from a really actual downside: Regardless of Biden’s guarantees to sculpt immigration coverage into one thing extra humane, the Haitian migrants in these photos—seen operating from authorities brokers on horseback—primarily had no authorized avenue to return to america. Whereas the Border Patrol is way from compassionate, the basis concern is the insurance policies it’s charged with implementing.

Border Patrol apprehended greater than 45,000 Haitians on the U.S.-Mexico border through the fiscal 12 months that ended on September 30—a rise of greater than 530 % from the 4,395 Haitians apprehended in fiscal 2020. Greater than 17,000 arrests occurred in that last month alone, after the July assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in August. However as camps of Haitians on the southern border continued to develop and the humanitarian disaster in gang-infested Haiti worsened, U.S. immigration coverage stayed the identical.

Though Biden offered himself because the immigration antithesis of former President Donald Trump, his administration has invoked Title 42, a public well being provision that permits the federal government to expel migrants upon arrival as a substitute of permitting them to say asylum, as U.S. immigration legislation ordinarily permits them to do at any port of entry. Trump invoked Title 42 in March 2020 in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden has not reversed that coverage, regardless of the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Our borders will not be open,” U.S. Secretary of Homeland Safety Alejandro Mayorkas warned in September. “Individuals shouldn’t make the harmful journey.”

Some nonetheless tried. In fiscal 2021, Haitians with out instant members of the family within the U.S. obtained just some hundred work visas, whereas hundreds have been arrested and instantly deported. The U.S. returned about 8,500 migrants to Haiti through aircraft final fall.

Practically a 12 months into his administration, Biden did make one modest coverage change. In November, the administration introduced that migrants from six international locations will once more be eligible for momentary work visas for seasonal jobs, a privilege that Trump withdrew in 2018. On that record was Haiti, giving a choose few migrants from the damaged nation at the very least one authorized pathway to america.