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Security Brief: SOUTHCOM Week of September 20, 2021

Week of Monday, September 20, 2021 | Issue 45

Benedetta Piva, SOUTHCOM Team



Haitian migrants[1]


Date: September 22, 2021

Location: US-Mexico border

Parties involved: Haitian migrants; Mexican Government; United States (US) Government; US Department of Homeland Security; US Immigration Customs Enforcement

The event: On Wednesday, September 22, 2021, due to deteriorating circumstances in migrant camps on both sides of the US-Mexico border, American officials attempted to deal with the thousands of Haitian migrants who had assembled, releasing some in south Texas and deporting others by aircraft.[2] From Sunday, September 19, to Tuesday, September 21, ten US aircraft landed in Haiti with 2,000 migrants being deported back to the island, most of whom were single adults, according to official sources.[3] Additionally, several hundred vulnerable individuals, such as pregnant women, families with children, and people with medical issues, were also released in Del Rio, Texas.[4]

The implications:

  • Sending the migrants back to Haiti is likely to contribute to the civil and political instability on the island, as many of the returned migrants will likely lack sufficient support and resources. The decision to deport migrants is likely the result of the Biden administration’s willingness to deter more people from reaching the border.

  • It is highly likely that releasing vulnerable individuals in Del Rio, Texas will put a strain on the resources of local volunteer-run welcome centers. Releasing migrants in Texas shows that the US is playing a positive part in the crisis by offering refuge to the most vulnerable. However, it is likely to have negative impacts on the already turbulent political climate in Texas, which could result in hate crimes against Haitians.

  • Many of the migrants released in Texas have been given notices to appear in an immigration office within 60 days, which involves less processing time from US Border Patrol officers than demanding an appearance in immigration court.[5] This choice was made without clearly specified criteria and will likely increase criticism towards the Biden administration, as Republicans are likely to claim that the Biden administration has encouraged Haitians to cross the border on the assumption that they will be granted refuge in the US. More specifically, as immigration courts are often overburdened, procedures can take many years, meaning that individuals are more likely to remain and establish themselves in the US. This could have long-term implications for asylum seekers because if they lose their cases they would get deported, while if they fail to appear in court they would be pursued by ICE.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]Haitians in Cité Soleil Queue for Food” licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Fact Check-How Haitian migrants make their way to the U.S. border, Reuters, September 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-haiti-route-idUSL1N2QQ1XB

[3] Thousands of Haitians Allowed to Stay in U.S. as Texas Camp Clears Out, The New York Times, September 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/23/us/haitian-migrants-texas-camp.html

[4] Fact Check-How Haitian migrants make their way to the U.S. border, Reuters, September 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-haiti-route-idUSL1N2QQ1XB

[5] Many Haitian migrants from Texas border camp staying in the U.S., officials say, CNBC News, September 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/22/many-haitian-migrants-from-texas-border-camp-staying-in-the-us-officials-say.html

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