Democrats are blasting the Biden administration for its treatment of Haitian migrants at the Southern border and want answers from officials after videos from other outlets appear to show border patrol officials using aggressive tactics when confronting them.
The requests comes days after videos taken by Al Jazeera and Reuters appear to show law enforcement officers on horseback including authorities swinging long reins near migrants who crossed the US-Mexico border near Del Rio, Texas.
Reuters video shows the officers at the water’s edge, twirling the long reins as migrants crossed the border at the US shoreline of the Rio Grande. At one point in the video, the officer’s horse nearly charges into one of the migrants, who falls back and into the water.
As a response to these videos, Democratic lawmakers have railed against the administration officials who have yet to explain what happened in these instances at the southern border.
Nine members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, director of public engagement and former Congressman Cedric Richmond, and Tina Flournoy, Vice President Kamala Harris’ chief of staff on Thursday and reiterated that they plan to respond to the actions by Customs and Border Protection with congressional action.
The nine lawmakers, which included CBC Chairwoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio, and Reps. Shelia Jackson Lee of Texas, Barbara Lee of California. Gregory Meeks of New York, Troy Carter of Louisiana, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Yvette Clarke of New York, Ritchie Torres of New York and Steven Horsford of Nevada, said in a statement hours after the meeting they wanted humanitarian assistance for the migrants and an investigation of the “violence against Haitian migrants, public release of the results of the investigation and call for removal of Customs and Border Protection agents identified in photos on horseback brutalizing migrants.”
“This treatment will not be tolerated,” Beatty said in a statement Wednesday evening. “The Congressional Black Caucus is committed to supporting Black people across the diaspora and we pledge our support to the people of Haiti.”
She added, “Following today’s dialogue, we are hopeful for increased U.S. support, including development aid and logistical resources to assist with earthquake and pandemic recovery in Haiti.”
At a news conference Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who didn’t attend the White House meeting, demanded answers from the administration.
“I’m pissed. I’m unhappy. And I’m not just unhappy with the cowboys who were running down Haitians and using their reins to whip them. I’m unhappy with the administration. We are following the Trump policy,” she said. “What we witnessed is worse than what we witnessed in slavery: Cowboys with their reins whipping Black people, Haitians, into the water.”
Meanwhile, Meeks, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson sent a letter to the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security about concerns for the treatment of the undocumented immigrants in Del Rio.
“(T)housands of Haitians and other migrants have arrived in Del Rio, Texas, over the past week and are now seeking shelter in squalid conditions under a bridge,” they wrote in the letter. “Despite the Administration’s rapid deployment of personnel and resources in response to this crisis, much of the strategy to address the care of these vulnerable individuals is deeply concerning.”
The Biden administration is still relying on a Trump-era border policy linked to the coronavirus pandemic that allows border authorities to swiftly remove migrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border. Over recent days, the administration has ramped up those removals and increased the pace of repatriation flights to Haiti, a fact Thompson and Meeks cited in their letter.
“Specifically, we urge the Administration to halt repatriations to Haiti until the country recovers from these devastating crises,” they wrote. “We are troubled by the plan to repatriate thousands of people to Haiti, despite the instability, violence, and devastation that continue to plague the country.”
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