Photographs and videos of the thousands of Haitian migrants who have come to a small Texas border town of Del Rio, offer a glimpse into the chaos that has been unfolding at the US-Mexico border since last week.
With their toddlers on their shoulder and home packed in a few bags, many were also forced to cross Mexico’s Rio Grande into the US following the devastating earthquake in August that killed over 2,200 people and destroyed thousands of homes, and the assassination of their president Jovenel Moise in July.
According to US media reports, nearly 15,000 Haitians are sleeping under a highway bridge in rapidly deteriorating sanitary conditions, offering an overwhelming challenge to both the local and federal authorities.
Some migrants waded back through the river to buy food in Mexico that they carried in boxes on their heads before returning to the encampment in Texas. Others crossed the Acandi river to arrive in Columbia before beginning an arduous journey to Mexico.
Images of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents on Horseback apparently attempting to corral migrants in specific areas also emerged belying President Joe Biden’s promise of restoring an asylum programme for vulnerable families fleeing persecution.
In at least one video, a CBP agent is heard berating a migrant using xenophobic and racist language, exclaiming to one man as he and his wife crossed a river: “This is why your country’s sh*t, because you use your women for this!”
Among those condemning the images coming out of Del Rio was Vice President Kamala Harris. “What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback, treating human beings the way they were was horrible,” she told reporters on Tuesday. “I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into what is going on there, but human beings should never be treated that way, and I’m deeply troubled about it.”
She added that she would be in touch with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Despite the condemnation, the Biden administration has continued deporting the more than 12,000 Haitians assembled at the border en masse under Title 42, a Trump-era immigration rule that largely shut down the border to asylum seekers.
It has also ramped up flights to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, while bussing some of the migrants away from the capital. The asylum seekers with young children are especially worried about the spike in violence in their homeland’s capital, where the gangs control roughly one-third of the territory.
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