Mexico faced with the dilemma of deporting migrants and the case of Haiti 2:14
More than 50 Democratic lawmakers urged the Joe Biden administration on Friday to halt deportations to Haiti as nearly 10,000 migrants have overwhelmed Del Rio, Texas, many of whom are Haitian.
In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), lawmakers noted the continuing instability in Haiti and said: "The Haitian government's ability to safely receive its citizens will take months, if not years, to secure. "
A Homeland Security official told CNN on Thursday that removal and deportation flights to Haiti will continue.
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The request underscores the political pressures DHS is under as it tries to deter migration while appealing to members of the president's party.
Haiti is still recovering from a major earthquake that left more than 2,000 dead and thousands more injured, as well as the assassination of its late President Jovenel Moise in July.
For those reasons, lawmakers, led by Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Nydia Velázquez, argued that the Biden administration should consider indefinitely halting deportations to Haiti, updating eligibility for a form of humanitarian aid, and helping mitigate COVID-19 in the country.
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"The Biden administration cannot claim that it is doing everything it can to support the Haitian community while continuing to unjustly deport Haitians as the island is going through its worst political, public health and economic crisis yet," Pressley said in a release.
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Many of the Haitians currently living on the southern border of the United States are believed to have been living in South America after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, but the toll from the pandemic in the region prompted migration to the southern border of USA.
On Thursday, more than 9,000 migrants lined up outside the United States border in Del Rio, Texas, in hopes of being processed, according to the local sheriff.
"Our federal partners are working tirelessly and doing what they have been assigned. They are understaffed. They are tired," Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez said Thursday.
"It can hit a breaking point pretty quickly."
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The number of Haitians arriving at the southern border of the United States has gradually increased since the spring.
In August, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported 7,580 encounters with Haitians, according to the latest available data.
Under a public health order linked to the coronavirus pandemic, border agents have the authority to turn away migrant adults and families.
However, a federal judge ruled Thursday that the Biden administration will no longer be able to subject migrant families with children to the order.
Deportation and removal flights to Haiti appeared to have temporarily halted until this week, according to Witness at the Border, an outside group that tracks removal flights.
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"The news of the restart of Haitian deportation flights is the kind of morally indefensible news that we would have expected from the Trump administration, not the Biden administration. Given the instability and suffering on the ground in Haiti, the last thing we should be doing is deporting Haitians. These deportation flights should stop, full stop, "said Frank Sharry, CEO of America's Voice, in a statement Thursday.
DHS has taken other steps to target Haitians in the United States.
In May, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a new designation for Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, a form of humanitarian aid.
TPS applies to people in the United States who would face extreme hardship if forced to return to their home countries devastated by armed conflict or natural disasters and allows them to work legally in the United States.
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