By Luke Kyaw and Amy Berberyan
SACRAMENTO, CA – This past week in the small town of Del Rio, Texas, about 14,000 Haitian migrants were forced to live under a bridge, and were chased by the U.S. Border Patrol—using horses, whips and lariats.
The California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) released a statement that vehemently condemned the actions of the Border Patrol, likening the events of the horrible scene to “the barbaric and inhumane treatment of Africans brought to this country as slaves.”
These thousands of migrants make up just one portion of a prevailing wave of migrants who are seeking refuge in the U.S. after the Biden administration restored temporary protected status—which former President Trump had previously revoked—back to them.
This mass migration toward the southern border of the United States may be due to a variety of factors and events, including the assassination of Haitian President Jovenal Moise in July of this year as well as a devastating earthquake in August.
Former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Neuman also attributed the Haitian chaos to the pandemic, stating that “the [Haitian] economy [tremendously] suffered with COVID.”
Jean Baptiste Wilvens, one of the migrants, told ABC news that his pregnant wife and 10-year-old daughter who were staying in the U.S. camp said to him that it was “hell.”
The California Legislative Black Caucus said these dehumanizing actions taken by the Border Patrol “[showed] no compassion” and were reminiscent of those taken by slave masters in America’s past.
The CLBC then called upon President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to “investigate and reprimand the Border Patrol Officers” involved in the incident, and also called for the “immediate and expedited acceptance of applications for the Haitian refugees at the border.”
They maintained that all refugees have the right to seek safety within America’s borders.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said he had to “raise his voice in protest of the actions of the Border Patrol and to invite and provide resources for resettlement for the Haitian refugees at the border.”
Furthermore, the CLBC said that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal,” urging immediate action from the Biden Administration.
This Friday, President Biden responded to the incident by censuring the Border Patrol and promising that those responsible would pay for their actions. He called the situation “outrageous” and “beyond an embarrassment.”
Secretary Mayorkas also revealed Friday that there are no longer any immigrants under the Del Rio International Bridge, with several thousand awaiting permission to live in the U.S. and others returning to Haiti and Mexico.