Haitian migrants fleeing disaster, whipped by guards at southern border

   This year has been a devastating year for the small Caribbean nation of Haiti. Just one month after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7th,  a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the southern peninsula of Haiti in September, killing 220,000 people and displacing more. These two events, along with a widespread escalation of gang violence and instability in the impoverished nation, have forced many out of their homes, including many of the 15,000 migrants stranded under the Del Rio International Bridge on the US-Mexico border.

   Even after making the journey to America, Haitian migrants struggle to find respite. 15,000 such migrants have found themselves forced to camp out on the border with little access to food or water in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Daina Beth Solomon of Reuters Magazine.  Worse yet, migrants returning across the border to Del Rio after seeking food and supplies in Mexico have been physically blocked by mounted border officials and hit with “whip-like” cords, as Solomon further reported. 

   The Biden administration has voiced its disapproval of the border guards’ actions. “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki at a White House told reporters. The incident is now under investigation, according to US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz.

   The actions of border officials against Haitian migrants have sparked much debate among Americans. Some are decrying the guards’ actions as unnecessary and racist, while others claim that the migrants were here illegally and thus the guards’ responses were necessary. It is true that previously, any immigrant would be eligible to apply for asylum after arrival in the United States regardless of their immigration status. However, under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, many immigrants intending to apply for asylum must remain in Mexico- where many face violence and deportation- for the duration of their immigration proceedings.