Photographers for the Associated Press, Reuters, and AFP captured pictures of the Biden administration's onslaught on more than 10,000 Haitian migrants gathering under a freeway underpass on the outskirts of Del Rio, Texas, a border town 145 miles west of San Antonio.
Several reporters described border Patrol personnel riding on horses as using the reins of their horses to intimidate migrants who had waded across the Rio Grande, which is unusually low at this time. An agent “swung his whip menacingly, charging his horse toward the men in the river,” according to the El Paso Times on Monday.
Rather than risk crossing through lines set up on the US side of the camp by the Border Patrol and Texas state police, who would arrest them and ship them off for immediate deportation, the refugees gathered in a makeshift camp under the freeway bridge on the US side of the river have been crossing back into Mexico to get food and other supplies.
Border Patrol agents began riding down the river on horseback to cut off individuals who had returned to Mexico for supplies, usually men, and prevent them from rejoining their families. In some cases, desperate migrants threw the food and water they were carrying on their heads into the river in an attempt to reach the American side.
On Sunday, the Border Patrol began massive deportations of Haitians, detaining 3,300 migrants and returning over 400 to Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The remaining members of this group were split between El Paso and San Antonio, where they would await deportation, with flights to Haiti continuing from both locations.
According to Acting Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, All Haitians still in Del Rio will be deported by the end of the week. “Our goal for the next 6 to 7 days is to process the 12,662 migrants who are currently under that bridge as quickly as possible,” he said. “What we want to make sure of is that we deter migrants from coming into the region so that we can deal with the people who are currently under the bridge.”
Flights to Haiti will be increased to seven per day, with four to Port-au-Prince and three to Cap-Haitien, Haiti's largest city in the north, giving the airlift a daily capacity of around a thousand people. Deportations to Mexico and Central America are planned for the remaining refugees.
The images of border officials herding Haitian migrants were merely the most visible manifestation of a ruthless US government policy. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, whose office oversees the Border Patrol, arrived in Del Rio on Monday with a small army of 600 more agents to supervise the mass repression.
He restated the Biden administration's position in a press conference in the border city that the refugees would not be permitted to petition for asylum, which is their right under international law. Instead, under Title 42, a legal clause authorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to declare a public health exception—the coronavirus pandemic—to warrant emergency action. They would be picked up and deported right away.
The Trump administration first used Title 42 as part of an all-out repression campaign against migrants seeking to breach the US–Mexico border. During the presidential election campaign, Biden pretended to criticize this ruthless approach, but he has since adopted a just as violent and anti-democratic policy.
The government quickly stated that it would appeal a federal judge's judgment prohibiting the use of Title 42 on September 16. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is moving swiftly to deport all Haitian migrants two weeks after the judge granted a 14-day stay of the injunction.
The vast majority of the tens of thousands of Haitians in Del Rio are not recent arrivals from the country. They went to Brazil, Chile, and other regions of South America in pursuit of economic and physical survival after a major earthquake killed over 200,000 people and left most of the country in ruins in 2010.
As a result, many, if not the majority, of people being deported back to Haiti have no understanding of their "home" nation. The majority of the children were born or raised in South America, and they speak Spanish or Portuguese more fluently than Haitian Creole or French.
Since 2010, the senior migrants have not returned to their original countries. However, because of the economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, they are attempting to enter the United States, where many have family or expect to find work and safety. they are aware that Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, having been devastated by recent hurricanes and a second catastrophic earthquake, as well as widespread political violence culminating in President Jovenel Mose's assassination.
The Biden administration sees the border violence as a public relations issue that its spin doctors will handle. As a result, White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the footage of the Border Patrol agent marching refugees across the river as "horrible to watch" on Monday. Anyone who saw that footage would not consider it acceptable or appropriate.”
The violence, on the other hand, is in response to the White House's policy. On Sunday, the US government blocked the border at Del Rio, and Border Patrol officials were enforcing the restriction.
Despite the phony handwringing in front of the national media, there will be no change in policy toward migrants, nor will there be any reduction in the daily violence perpetrated by Border Patrol thugs, who only a few months ago gave Trump their full support, appeared regularly at Border Patrol functions to applaud their most ruthless actions, and was endorsed for reelection by their union.
The living conditions in the Del Rio camp are deplorable. Several pregnant women are stranded there, and at least one of them gave birth on the spot, was transferred to a hospital in Del Rio, and then returned to the camp with her newborn child. According to witnesses, one woman collapsed in front of National Guard forces, who were stationed in Del Rio to support the Border Patrol, and the military "slowly approached and carried her away," according to witnesses.
Del Rio's temperature reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, only to drop to 100 degrees by nightfall, with a low of only 80 degrees overnight, placing many of those stranded there in danger of heatstroke.
Meanwhile, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's Mexican government announced that it would join the United States in deporting Haitians immediately on Sunday. Officials from the Mexican government said deportation aircraft would depart from the Mexican side of the US border and from the Mexican border with Guatemala, where another large group of Haitians has remained.