The Biden administration said on Saturday it will begin to ramp up deportations of Haitians currently being held under a Texas bridge after illegally crossing the border, The New York Times reports.
The administration temporarily paused deportations to Haiti after the country was hit by a devastating earthquake last month but has since resumed amid an influx of Haitian migrants crossing into Texas. The administration hopes the swift removals will help reduce strain on the immigration system and deter other Haitians from trying to come to the United States.
“We have reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” Department of Homeland Security official Marsha Espinosa told the Times.
The administration is expected to run four flights a day to remove migrants, with a priority on single adults. DHS said it would “accelerate the pace and increase the capacity” within three days.
14,000 Haitians trapped under a bridge:
DHS closed the entry port in the Texas town of Del Rio after more than 14,000 Haitians crossed from Mexico and have been camping out under a bridge as they wait for authorities to process them.
DHS has deployed an additional 400 agents to the area and the Department of Health and Human Services has sent teams to provide Covid tests.
A majority of the migrants spent months traveling through Brazil and Chile, where many were given permission to live after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. But people who have resettled to other countries are not eligible for asylum, which means many are likely to be sent back.
Some Democrats have called on Biden to reconsider.
“Haitians are experiencing a crisis after crisis and deserve compassion,” said Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. “Instead of stepping up deportation, we should be halting it. It’s shameful that from administration to administration our cruel immigration policies remain.”
Border crossings rise:
The influx of Haitian migrants has contributed to overwhelming an immigration system already dealing with record migration.
The United States has seen hundreds of thousands of border crossings each month. Many asylum-seekers are already waiting years to get a hearing.
More than 200,000 people were stopped by Border Patrol in August, bringing the total since October to an estimated 1.5 million.
The administration has tried to move away from former President Donald Trump’s harsh immigration measures while trying to deter additional migrants from coming to the border.
“Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion,” Espinosa said. “Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and welfare of border communities and to the lives of migrants themselves and should not be attempted.”