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'Disappointing, draconian and discriminatory'

Archbishop decries rapid deportations, calls for 'humane' treatment of Haitians at border

Archbishop Thomas Wenski wrote the following statement in response to the crisis at the southern border, where thousands of Haitian immigrants have been living under a bridge with hopes of entering the U.S. The Biden administration this week began a series of daily flights to deport them back to Haiti. 

For the past several months, the Biden-Harris administration has insisted that there is no border crisis. During that same time, border crossings reached a high not seen in decades. U.S. Border Patrol reported almost 200,000 “migrant encounters” in July 2021.

Then, about 12,000 Black Haitians showed up at the border near Del Rio, Texas, and suddenly we have a “crisis.”

The response has been disappointing, draconian, and discriminatory. Haitians are being singled out under Title 42 and put on flights back to Haiti, a country on the ropes because of political instability, ongoing gang violence, and a growing humanitarian crisis brought on by natural disasters.

Title 42 (a measure aimed at controlling COVID) is being applied only to Haitians; other nationalities — Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans — are being dispersed through lateral transfers to detention facilities. Deporting thousands of Haitians is a strange way for the administration to show that “Black lives matter.”

The situation at the Del Rio border is a humanitarian crisis — and should be responded to as such. So far, offers of assistance for pastoral services as well other social and legal services have been rebuffed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

It is also a crisis seemingly provoked by the administration itself by having sent mixed signals to potential immigrants, and it should be held liable in the same way that the “attractive nuisance” doctrine holds landowners liable for injuries to children who trespass on land if the injury results from a hazardous object or condition on the land that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object or condition.

Having created the crisis, the administration should try to resolve it humanely without visiting further harm on this vulnerable population.

Our immigration system has been broken for decades, but the administration’s actions on the border to date do not bode well for any positive immigration reform soon.

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