U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USBP) captured on video corralling Haitian migrants from horseback; charging into individuals with their mounts, shoving them to the ground and whipping migrants as they bring food back to their shelters. (AP Photo)

By J.K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

The United States has closed its border to Haitian migrants, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed over the weekend.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USBP) is deploying a surge of 400 agents to police the Texas town of Del Rio, where, according to local officials estimates and AP reporting, tens of thousands of migrants, the majority Haitian, have gathered.

DHS has also announced that USBP is coordinating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to apprehend and detain these migrants, but enforcement at the border has already turned violent. USBP officers have been captured on video corralling Haitian migrants from horseback; charging into individuals with their mounts, shoving them to the ground and whipping migrants as they bring food back to their shelters.

“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters in a Sept. 20 press conference. “Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life.”

“I am very focused on the mission,” Mayorkas told CNN Monday when confronted with the human toll of his, DHS’s, ICE’s and USBP’s crackdown.

“I have seen some of the footage,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the conference. “I don’t have the full context,” she said of the observed and reported abuses. “I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate, but I don’t have additional details.”

Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande river from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, to avoid deportation from the U.S. The U.S. is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

“The majority of migrants continue to be expelled under CDC’s Title 42 authority,” DHS announced in a Sept. 18 release. “Those who cannot be expelled under Title 42 and do not have a legal basis to remain will be placed in expedited removal proceedings. DHS is conducting regular expulsion and removal flights to Haiti, Mexico, Ecuador, and Northern Triangle countries .”

Title 42, specifically, is a Trump Administration order to further restrict migrants and immigration that could theoretically spread disease, COVID-19 being the foremost in mind.

Haiti and its citizens continue to reel from three devastating blows in recent months. July saw Haiti’s President assassinated, followed by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake August 14. Relief and recovery efforts were suppressed in the rain, flooding and landslides that came with Tropical Storm Grace.

At the time of this writing, USA Today is reporting 3,500 migrants have been relocated from Del Rio for processing. The Sacramento Bee is reporting as many as 6,000 migrants have been relocated. Reuters reports flights have begun: 327 Haitian migrants have been ejected from the United States and flown back to Haiti.

*This story was updated 9/21/2021

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