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'Horrific': Biden administration's handling of Haitian migrants at US border is shameful

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Even President Joe Biden's press secretary admits that the images are "horrific."

The photographs, taken Sunday by Paul Ratje on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas, show U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing down migrants from Haiti, a nation crippled by earthquakes, hurricanes, political violence and extreme poverty.

Desperate migrants – carrying food and water for their families and themselves – scrambled away from the agents' charging horses.

At least one man, according to news reports, fell trying to avoid the long reins waved in the air by an agent on horseback.

Think about that: An agent, carrying with him the authority of the U.S. government, riding down a defenseless, frightened Black man.

This, in America, in 2021. Not 1821.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19, 2021.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19, 2021.

The issues surrounding unauthorized migration across our nation's border with Mexico are undeniably complex. And the rush of Haitian migrants in recent days has presented Biden and his team with a difficult set of choices.

Even so, the scenes that unfolded at the border Sunday are indefensible, no matter your politics or your position on border policy.

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19, 2021.
A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19, 2021.

As White House press secretary Jen Psaki seemed to acknowledge Monday: "I've seen some of the footage. I don't have the full context. I can't imagine what context would make that appropriate. … I don't think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate."

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters that CBP is coordinating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard to move migrants to other processing locations for removal. The agency has moved approximately 3,500 migrants "over the last few days and 3,000 today," he said.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters that CBP is coordinating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard to move migrants to other processing locations for removal. The agency has moved approximately 3,500 migrants "over the last few days and 3,000 today," he said.

None of it is acceptable nor appropriate.

Yet, Biden's team already has sent hundreds of desperate migrants back to Haiti. Thousands more will soon follow, as the administration rushes to mount an airlift that will ferry people back, not to safety, but to chaos and fear.

Their only "crime" was to hope that America would live up to its values and promises, that huddled masses could still find refuge here.

But this is America in 2021. It is Joe Biden's America.

It is our America.

USA TODAY's editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff and the USA TODAY Network. Most editorials are coupled with an Opposing View, a unique USA TODAY feature.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Haitian migrants: Biden's handling of border crisis is unacceptable

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