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A 1994 interview in which President Joe Biden discounted the import to U.S. policy if Haiti were to "quietly sink" into the water is resurfacing as the administration grapples with the fallout of thousands of Haitian migrants flooding the southern border.
Biden, then a senator serving Delaware, was contemplating U.S. intervention in Eastern Europe, including parts of the former Soviet Union where he said the presence of nuclear weapons posed a threat to the United States. He then measured that foreign policy issue against the prospect of a U.S.-led invasion of Haiti, whose president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was deposed in a coup in 1991, downplaying the country's importance to foreign policymaking by comparison to the situation in Bosnia.
“If Haiti, a god awful thing to say, if Haiti just quietly sunk into the Caribbean or rose up 300 feet, it wouldn't matter a whole lot in terms of our interest,” Biden told Charlie Rose, then of PBS.
The words resurfaced this week as Biden found himself in a position to confront Haiti-related turmoil again, this time from the White House, in the form of Haitian nationals gathering at the U.S.-Mexico border by the thousands.
Migrants set up an encampment under a bridge near Del Rio, Texas, and their numbers swelled to upwards of 15,000 last weekend despite the administration declaring that the borders are not open and discouraging people from journeying to the U.S.
The migrants arrived amid compounding difficulties at home for the people of Haiti. Their former president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated in July, and a recent earthquake killed several thousand people.
Many of the migrants came not from Haiti, but from other Central and South American countries, and Republicans implicated Biden's border policies as an invitation for migrants to come.
Images of Customs and Border Protection agents corralling Haitian migrants while on horseback led to accusations that the migrants were being whipped. Even though CBP denied the charge, many Democrats lashed out at the force, with Biden promising those responsible "will pay."
Some 2,276 of the more than 10,000 mostly Haitian migrants processed had been sent back to Haiti as of Friday, an official from the Department of Homeland Security told the Washington Examiner. Another 6,615 were released into the U.S., while 160 have been served papers ordering they be sent back to their country of origin. Thousands continued to wait for processing as of Friday.
Biden, 78, has made a handful of other remarks widely deemed racially insensitive, with African Americans often the subject of his blunders.
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman