MIAMI – U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida held a news conference Thursday afternoon with other elected officials and community activists to discuss the treatment of Haitian migrants at the Texas border.
Wilson kicked off the speeches Thursday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami, calling on the Biden administration to immediately stop deporting people to Haiti.
According to the congresswoman, some of the Haitians currently at the border have not lived in Haiti for 10 to 15 years and the country is not equipped to take them.
Wilson also addressed controversial photos that surfaced this week, showing Border Patrol agents on horses using long reins against Haitians who were crossing back into Texas after going into Mexico.
“They looked like whips to me,” Wilson said, adding that the images she saw “looked like slavery.”
“I’m pissed,” the congresswoman said.
Wilson said some of the Haitian migrants have been moved into shelters, including in Miami.
State Sen. Shevrin Jones said this is no longer a border issue, but a “humanitarian issue,” and said the U.S. must figure out how to help these Haitian migrants.
The congresswoman added that she is not just concerned for the migrants at the border, but for the people currently living in Haiti, who are victims of a hurricane, earthquake, political instability and food insecurity, among other issues.
Still, she said the U.S. border “is closed,” although she believes the U.S. needs to accommodate those currently at the border.
Thursday’s news conference comes after the Biden administration’s special envoy to Haiti resigned, protesting “inhumane” large-scale expulsions of Haitian migrants to their homeland wracked by civil strife and natural disaster, U.S. officials confirmed.
Daniel Foote was appointed to the position only in July, following the assassination of Haiti’s president. Even before the migrant expulsions from the small Texas border town of Del Rio, the career diplomat was known to be deeply frustrated with what he considered a lack of urgency in Washington and a glacial pace on efforts to improve conditions in Haiti.
Foote wrote Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he was stepping down immediately “with deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes.”
“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs to daily life,” he wrote. “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”
The camp in Texas has shrunk considerably since surpassing more than 14,000 people on Saturday – many of them expelled and many released in the U.S. with notices to report to immigration authorities.
The White House is facing sharp bipartisan condemnation. Democrats and many pro-immigration groups say efforts to expel thousands of Haitians without a chance to seek asylum violates American principles and their anger has been fueled the images of Border Patrol agents that went viral this week.