Border Patrol / Slave Patrol, Tomato / Other Tomato
A U.S. law enforcement officer on horseback wielded what appeared to be a lariat, whipping it close to the face of a man wading in the Rio Grande carrying a plastic bag of food.
That is not a description of slave patrols from the 1800s. It was the lede of a story by Reuters on Sunday. And a reminder that, actually, all administrations treat poor immigrants worse than they would treat animals. (Except maybe Trump, who I can only assume murders puppies for fun in his free time.)
At least one officer of the federal government cosplaying a slave catcher used a whip against the migrants. One officer on horseback yelled, "This is why your country's shit, because you use your women for this." The people that Customs and Border Protection officers were attacking were returning to the US with supplies for a group of thousands of people who have been living under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. People living there say they are just trying not to starve to death.
Much like Susan Collins, the White House has expressed its concern.
The White House on Monday criticized the use of horse reins to threaten Haitian migrants after images circulated of a U.S. border guard on horseback charging at migrants near a riverside camp in Texas.
Border Patrol, on the other hand, is doubling down.
U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said the incident was being investigated to make sure there was not an "unacceptable" response by law enforcement. He said officers were operating in a difficult environment, trying to ensure the safety of the migrants while searching for potential smugglers.
And, despite photographic and video evidence to the contrary, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said at a news conference that the officers were whipping Hatians to "ensure control of the horse." That seems ... unlikely!
Let's back up
Around 12,000 Haitian migrants have been camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. The people who were whipped by CBP officers on horseback living out their slavecatcher fantasies had crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico and were attempting to bring back food and water.
Previously, the migrants had been allowed to cross to and from Mexico. On Sunday, they were met with violence. Now, they're being sent back to a country that has been ravaged by natural disasters and violence. As described by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA),
"The back-to-back disasters are exacerbating preexisting vulnerabilities. At the time of the disaster, Haiti is still reeling from the 7 July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and still facing an escalation in gang violence since June that has affected 1.5 million people, with at least 19,000 displaced in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. The compounded effects of an ongoing political crisis, socio-economic challenges, food insecurity and gang violence continue to greatly worsen an already precarious humanitarian situation. Some 4.4 million people, or nearly 46 per cent of the population, face acute food insecurity, including 1.2 million who are in emergency levels ... and 3.2 million people at crisis levels[.] An estimated 217,000 children suffer from moderate-to-severe acute malnutrition."
Because of this, four months ago, DHS Secretary Mayorkas announced the US would be giving Temporary Protected Status to Haitians. TPS is a temporary immigration status that allows people from countries dealing with serious problems to legally remain in the country. DHS subsequently expanded and extended the program. Unfortunately, the Biden administration decided to only give TPS to Haitians who got to the country before July 29 — even after the August 14 earthquake.
Some 6,500 Haitian migrants and asylum seekers have already been taken into custody. On Sunday, the first flights landed in Port-au-Prince.
The people living under the bridge in Del Rio were not there because they wanted to be. They were waiting there, they thought, to be processed by US immigration officials. Many are seeking to claim asylum, a legal immigration status. Nevertheless, we're sending all of them back.
"It's completely unconscionable," Steven Forester, immigration policy coordinator at the US-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, told Al Jazeera. "There's no way Haiti can handle the people that are in Haiti now given the conditions there. It can't provide for these people."
To kick thousands of needy people out of our country as quickly as possible, the Biden administration is using Title 42 and a policy dreamed up by Stephen Miller that allows for "removals by the US government of persons who have recently been in a country where a communicable disease was present" — which would be every country in the world. If it weren't for this use of Title 42, the thousands of Haitians living under a bridge — and no, that's not optimal! — would have been processed like everyone else who crosses the border. Yes, some would have been held/deported. Others would have been allowed to enter the country and given resources and contact info for places like Catholic Charities.
The Biden administration is also fighting in court to keep this use of Title 42 in place. A district judge ordered the administration to halt these speedy deportations, but the DC Circuit stayed that order.
So much for a humane immigration policy.
Meanwhile, conditions in Haiti keep getting worse. After Moïse was assassinated, the US called for an immediate election. Now, we say "conditions do not yet exist for elections to occur in Haiti and that [the US government] supports Haitian solutions to the country's ongoing problems."
We have no problem sending thousands of people back to there, though!
And, regardless of what you think about Title 42, I think we can all agree (at least here on Wonkette) that Chuck Norris wannabes on horseback shouldn't run around representing our country by literally whipping people.
Or maybe that's just me.
Many thanks to CBP for the reminder that ICE is far from the only agency within the Department of Homeland Security that should be abolished. As far as I'm concerned, we should abolish DHS entirely.
Hear me out! The Department of Homeland Security didn't even exist until 2002, when it was created in the midst of post-9/11 anti-civil liberties fervor. The useful parts of the agency, like FEMA and the TSA, could easily be absorbed by other agencies — with many of them simply going back to the departments they were originally part of.
Secretary Mayorkas and CBP Chief Ortiz's defense of migrant-flogging are reminders that the current system is broken. People and agencies that reward abusive officers, arrest victims for reporting domestic violence, and attack people with lariats cannot be reformed. They need to be entirely dismantled. And whatever replaces them needs to be rebuilt from scratch.
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