Is VP Harris right Haitian migrants ‘should never be treated this way’ at border?


Fact Box

  • Kamala Harris is the first female vice president of the United States sworn in on January 20, 2021. Previously, she was the US Senator for California, the second Black woman and first South Asian-American senator in history.
  • On September 21, 2021, Vice President Harris said the interaction between crossing Haitian migrants with border patrol agents on horseback “deeply troubled” her and “human beings should never be treated that way.” 
  • After images and videos of Customs and Border Protection agents on horseback “chasing down migrants at the southern border” emerged, the Department of Homeland Security announced its decision to launch an investigation into the treatment of Haitian migrants. 
  • The National Border Patrol Council responded to the administration’s condemnation of their actions, saying they made “irrational claims about being horrified by images that show Border Patrol agents on horseback using authorized equipment and techniques to deter and prevent a large group of people from illegally entering the United States in Del Rio, Texas.”
  • President Joe Biden tasked Vice President Harris with addressing the root cause of migration from Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) on February 2, 2021 with the Executive Order Root Causes Strategy
  • US Customs and Border Protection reported the number of migrant apprehensions reached a 21-year-record high of 213,534 in July 2021. August has seen a slight drop of 208,887 migrant encounters.

Veronica (No)

Thousands of migrants are streaming across the border, crossing illegally at certain points and completely overwhelming the local border towns. The state of Texas and local authorities are not getting enough assistance or direction from the federal government. The Biden-Harris administration has gone back and forth on their messaging regarding immigration, confusing the expectations of migrants and frustrating the efforts of authorities in Texas to maintain some kind of order. 

With people flooding across the border illegally, law enforcement does not have the time or resources to determine whether each person is truly a refugee, a migrant (not with legal refugee status), or possibly a human smuggler, drug trafficker, or cartel or MS-13 gang member. Border Patrol and local police are in an impossible situation where they are tasked with protecting and enforcing our country's border and the American citizens living near it while unprecedented numbers of people cross it illegally. 

The Homeland Security and Border Patrol have both clarified that agents were not whipping migrants but that the photos showed the reins that agents use to control their horses. 

It's unfortunate how law enforcement is put in a situation where they don't have enough equipment, resources, or workers to manage the unprecedented influx of migrants in a more controlled way. If Harris is upset by how migrants are being treated, she should look in the mirror. Back in March, Biden announced Harris was the “most qualified” to take charge of migration over the southern border. But what has she accomplished in her time in charge? She has only recently surfaced to critique the wrong people: the hardworking, overworked border agents instead of her administration, which enables these crossings.

Ethan (Yes)

Migrants are still people, and regardless of status or nationality, these Haitian migrants deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity. These people are dealing with an extremely dangerous journey and perils that most US citizens can't even begin to fathom. The last thing they deserve when trying to come to our free country to start a new life is to be treated like scum. 

Vice President Harris didn't deny the need for border security, which is one reason some critics may be upset with her. In actuality, VP Harris has worked to create ways to address illegal immigration happening at the US borders. VP Harris was simply pointing out how the mistreatment of fellow human beings is unnecessary in any situation and that there needs to be an investigation into what is happening at the border. We would never treat US citizens this way because we know it's uncalled and perhaps over-the-top, so why shouldn't these migrants be given the same consideration?

The United States Border Patrol and Customs are not free from blame in this situation as there are countless times when border patrol and customs have mistreated migrants, treating them more like animals, a little less than human. VP Harris isn't letting the video evidence slide of border patrol's apparent mistreatment of migrants, and this extends beyond US detainment centers. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has long been scrutinized for the mistreatment immigrants face in ICE facilities. In this situation, Border Patrol and Customs took the situation way too far and must be reminded that humans do not deserve to be herded like cattle.

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