by Ashton Basak ‘23
Published Oct. 16th, 2021
Recently, the situation at the United States’ southern border has often been brought up as a point of interest and controversy relating to politics and immigration policy.
In mid-September, the U.S.-Mexican border situation escalated to new heights: over 10,000 migrants from Haiti were fleeing the devastating effects of the previous month’s earthquake, seeking asylum in the United States.
The Haitian migrants first arrived in Mexico where they crossed the Rio Grande river, and camped under the Del Rio International Bridge, where the borders of the United States and Mexico meet. Border control agents were overwhelmed, unable to manage the situation, causing a mass crowding of thousands underneath the bridge. The United States responded swiftly by increasing the police and border control presence at the bridge, seeking greater discipline and control over the situation.
As controversial images and videos surfaced on the internet of border control agents on horseback attacking migrants with a whip-like item, many started regarding the situation as an example of a human rights violation. President Biden declared that the situation “sends the wrong message around the world.”
In an attempt to remain in control, the Biden Administration started authorizing deportations of Haitian migrants away from the U.S.-Mexico border on September 19th, using the COVID-19 pandemic as justification. A policy from the former Trump Administration prevented the entrance of migrants if there was likelihood that they had been exposed to the coronavirus. Mass deportations of Haitian migrants began soon after, taking thousands of people back to their home country and adding fuel to the already chaotic situation ensuing from the assassination of the Haitian President and the devastation of natural disasters.
The United States called for 7 expulsion flights per day, with the goal of ultimately removing about 12,000 migrants from the Del Rio bridge.
As of the beginning of October, the situation at the Del Rio bridge is significantly more manageable, as the U.S. government’s removal of the Haitian migrants from the bridge was successful. This humanitarian crisis at the southern border of the U.S. represents America’s long struggle with immigration policy and reform. The crisis also calls on President Biden to take action to prevent another mass influx of Haitian migrants causing disruptions along the border.