Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Images of Haiti migrant treatment ‘do not reflect US’



Images of Haiti migrant treatment ‘do not reflect US’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A US Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Bravo – known in the US as the Rio Grande – near Del Rio city, Texas state. AFP

Images of Haiti migrant treatment ‘do not reflect US’

US secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas defended his department on September 22 after images showing horse-mounted immigration officers chasing down Haitian migrants on the border with Mexico went viral.

Pictures by AFP photographer Paul Ratje on September 20 that were published repeatedly in media across the US and around the world showed border patrol riders appearing to swing their mounts’ long reins to threaten undocumented migrants and push them back to the Rio Bravo river – known in the US as the Rio Grande – that marks the Mexico-US frontier.

The images “do not reflect who we are as a country, nor do they reflect who the United States Customs and Border Protection is”, Mayorkas told the House Homeland Security Committee.

“I have ordered an investigation to be conducted of the events that are captured in those images,” he said.

“The facts will drive the actions that we take, we ourselves will pull no punches,” he said, promising a result “in days and not weeks”.

Critics said the images from Del Rio city, Texas state were reminiscent of both cowboys attempting to herd livestock and times in history when horse-mounted police, prison guards or slave owners used whips against Black Americans.

They came as Mayorkas’ department struggles to halt thousands of Haitians and people from other countries crossing Mexico’s northern border hoping to stay in the US.

The Border Patrol began deporting the Haitians back to their country by air over the weekend.

But after the images of the horsemen and the migrants spread, members of President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party condemned the treatment.

“I urge President Biden … to immediately put a stop to these expulsions,” said US Senate leader Chuck Schumer.

As migrants continued to cross the border on September 22 and thousands remained camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Mayorkas said his department was working to deter arrivals.

“We do have a plan to address migration at the southern border, we’re executing it. It takes time and we’re starting to see the results,” he told the panel.

Many of the Haitians have migrated from countries in South America where they fled to years earlier, especially following the massive 2010 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country.

In Colombia on September 22, a government official said 19,000 migrants, mainly Haitians, were amassed on that country’s north coast, hoping to cross to Panama and find a route to the US.

As the US government has been putting Haitians on aircraft to send back to Haiti, Mayorkas said he was in discussions to send some back to South America as well.

“We are working with countries in South America – Chile and Brazil, for example – to see whether they would accept the return of Haitians who’ve travelled from those countries,” Mayorkas said, calling the issue “complicated”.

Meanwhile the senior Republican in Congress, Senator Mitch McConnell, blamed the Biden administration and “left-wing” Democrats for encouraging the migrants to come.

“They say their approach to immigration is the compassionate path, the one that reflects the soul of America,” McConnell said of the Democrats.

“They are wrong. No way does it honour the American soul or uphold American values to tolerate a major border security crisis,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to