Is DHS right to release over 12,000 Haitians into US?

Gregory Bull / AP

Fact Box

  • On September 26, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, told Chris Wallace on Fox 'Approximately, I think it's about 10,000 or so,12,000,' and of the 5,000 migrants awaiting processing, the department “will make determinations whether they will be returned to Haiti based on our public health and public interest authorities.' On September 27, Mayorkas said “it’s about 13,000.”
  • On September 22, a US official told the Associated Press Haitan migrants have been released into the nation’s interior on a “very, very large scale.”
  • DHS reported 30,000 Haitian migrants, once living in Central and South America, crossed the Rio Grande river into Texas to camp beneath the Del Rio bridge in mid-September. Texas Governor Abbott addressed the crisis announcing he would direct nearly $3 billion to border security to stem the tide of illegal immigration, crime, human trafficking, and drug smuggling.  
  • 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.

Tyler (Yes)

Homeland Security's decision to release upwards of 12,000 migrants into the United States is a step in the right direction of handling this moral predicament. The abundance of obstacles these migrants faced in their home country serves as more than enough reason to welcome them in the United States. In an attempted coup, Haiti's president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated on July 7, 2021, and the nation is understandably struggling to maintain its affairs. This unexpectedly induced power struggle left Haiti in a state of chaos. 

Not only did Haitians have their political turmoil, but natural chaos has struck them as well; on August 14, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit the island country. Many Haitians are now displaced and living in the streets or occupying government buildings. While there have been attempts to assemble relief efforts, they have not been executed in a timely manner. Groups like the Red Cross are accepting donations for Haiti; however, there have been some concerns surrounding whether or not these funds are being distributed fairly to the struggling nations in need

Regarding the worldwide pandemic, which has left no country untouched, no matter how rich or poor, Haiti lacks the resources they need, including medical supplies, to treat and maintain COVID-19 patients. The nation did not receive its first dose of vaccines until early August and is struggling to conduct nationwide mass vaccinations. Seeking asylum is not illegal unless the migrant is deemed a national security threat. The United States government has made no steps to identify the Haitian people as a threat, leaving the nation with no reason to deny refugees access to a country completely founded and built by immigrants.


Veronica (No) 

At the start of this border crisis, Haitians already have refugee status in other countries where many of them have been living for the last several years. Because they were settled in another country, they are not eligible for asylum in America. Multiple IDs have been found abandoned on the Mexican side of our border; Haitians were living safely in places outside of Haiti. Further, discarding documents indicates they are trying to hide their status from US officials and pretend they are still refugees. 

Regardless of their origin, very few are being screened for COVID (or other communicable diseases) as other people are. Once immigrants are in the US, tracking them for legal or infection purposes is difficult. According to 2019 DOJ data, 44% of immigrants did not return for their immigration court hearing. This is assuming all of these migrants are put in the system and given court dates. Border Patrol has been so overwhelmed by the numbers of people entering that many are being released without documentation.

The Biden administration initially said they were deporting the Haitians. However, after deporting a token amount, they pulled a bait-and-switch and released the majority of them into the country without consequences, essentially saying America doesn't have sovereign borders or a right to enforce them. It also communicates a lack of concern that their first action of coming to America was breaking our entrance laws. Haitians under a bridge were causing an optics problem. By not enforcing any kind of border policy, the Biden administration encourages more and more people to come. The optics are temporarily better, but the problem is far from gone.

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