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Biden takes responsibility for treatment of Haitian migrants

September 24, 2021

The US president has said the use of horses to confront Haitian refugees at the border with Mexico has been "outrageous" and has warned there will be consequences.

A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande, Texas
US President Joe Biden has expressed outrage over the treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern borderImage: PAUL RATJE/AFP

US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he is ultimately reponsible for the situation taking place at the southern border.

Washington has received domestic and international condemnation for its treatment of largely Haitian migrants trying to enter the country.

 "Of course, I take responsibility, I'm President.” Biden said to members of the media at the White House.

Biden also expressed strong feelings over the treatment of migrants, saying: "It's outrageous. I promise you: those people will pay.... There will be consequences."

Haitian migrants have been pictured confronted by US border guards on horseback, appearing to use heavy-handed tactics.

US government criticized for handling migrant situation

While US authorities launch an investigation into the actions of the Del Rio border guards, government has been criticized for its handling of the situation from various quarters.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement he was shocked by the "deplorable conditions beneath the concrete highway overpass in Del Rio."

Grandi said the mass expulsions were inconsistent with international norms. Grandi called for the US "immediately and fully to lift its Title 42 restrictions in effect since March of 2020 which continue to deny most people arriving at the southwest US land border any opportunity to request asylum."

In response to the situation, US Special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, tendered his immediate resignation stating: "I Will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of  Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti," adding, "our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed."

Numbers of migrants at southern border reduced

Around 15, 000 migrants mostly from Haiti had been camped out underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. They have been trying to get asylum in the US, as they try to escape the political and economic instability in their home country.

As of Thursday the Department of Homeland Security said that only 3000 people remained.

On Friday Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano announced that the camp was now completely cleared, saying that it was "phenomenal news."

US authorities have been returning migrants on flights back to Haiti.


kb/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)