WASHINGTON ― Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday criticized Joe Biden’s administration over its treatment of thousands of Haitian migrants who have been camped at a Texas border town seeking entry to the U.S., calling on the president to cease expelling them.
The Department of Homeland Security is removing most of the migrants using a Trump-era policy that allows the U.S. to quickly deport people crossing the border due to the coronavirus pandemic, typically without processing them for asylum. Many of the migrants have already been transported via airplane back to Haiti at the direction of U.S. immigration agents.
Schumer, who represents a state that boasts the largest concentration of Haitian immigrants in the country in New York City, urged Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to reverse the policy.
“We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. “We must allow asylum-seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and be afforded due process.”
The wave of Haitian migrants seeking entry to the U.S. grew over the summer after the assassination of the country’s president in July and an earthquake in August that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. The number of migrants has overwhelmed U.S. immigration officials, which have been forced to deploy hundreds of additional agents to the border city of Del Rio, Texas.
Video and photos of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping ropes at Haitian refugees on Sunday sparked widespread criticism of the administration’s handling of the situation, with other Democratic lawmakers calling for an investigation into the matter.
“I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate, but I don’t have additional details, and certainly I don’t have additional context,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday at a White House press briefing. “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”