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(Warning: This article contains graphic images. Video embedded at the bottom of this article).
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sent a message to would-be migrants, particularly Haitians, looking to enter the country seeking asylum at the southwest border: “People coming to the United States illegally will be returned, your journey will not succeed.”
Mayorkas denied that agents whipped anyone but said that officials would “investigate the facts.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki denounced the agent’s actions at a news conference in Washington D.C. on Monday saying: “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”
Video was released on Monday showing mounted U.S. Border Patrol agents chasing and whipping Haitian migrants trying to cross the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas.
Border Patrol agents could be heard screaming: “Let’s go! Get out now! Go back to Mexico!”
Migrants seeking asylum
More than 10,000 migrants have been living under a bridge on the Mexico-Texas border, under increasingly squalid conditions. The migrants, mostly from Haiti, have crossed the Rio Grande and are desperate for help from the United States government.
The crisis at the border has become a full-blown humanitarian crisis with temperatures reaching near 100 degrees, infants being present, and still being in the midst of a global pandemic.
Said one man, Ramses Colon, who is seeking asylum from Cuba, “You stand there among thousands with your little ticket waiting for your turn.” The tickets include numbers for the refugees to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol.
“Human rights abuses”
According to Immigration and Human Rights lawyer Qasim Rashid, Esq., the correct way to legally seek asylum is to cross the border and ask for asylum. In a Tweet on Monday morning, he said blocking asylum seekers violates American law.
Progressive Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who once immigrated to the U.S. from Somalia, called the Border Patrol’s actions “human rights abuses.”
“Cruel, inhumane, and a violation of domestic and international law. This needs a course correction and the issuance of a clear directive on how to humanely process asylums seekers at our border,” Rep. Omar wrote in her retweet.
After assuming office, President Biden granted Temporary Protected Status to Haitians already living in the U.S. due to conditions in Haiti, including political unrest and natural disasters. However, the order does not apply to new arrivals to the United States. Many migrants have already been deported back to Haiti, angering advocates who believe that people are not being given a fair chance to obtain asylum.
The Biden administration is now planning to expel all Haitian migrants from their makeshift camp, in an effort to mitigate the growing humanitarian crisis at the border. The border has been closed to travelers, and all migrants will be tested for COVID-19 prior to being flown back to Haiti and other countries.