Top Democrats compare Biden to Trump over the Haitian migrant crisis, as the GOP falsely accuses him of allowing open borders

Top Democrats compare Biden to Trump over the Haitian migrant crisis, as the GOP falsely accuses him of allowing open borders
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CIUDAD ACUNA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 20: Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As U.S. immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation.
CIUDAD ACUNA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 20: Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As U.S. immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation. John Moore/Getty Images
  • Biden is facing rampant criticism over an evolving crisis involving Haitian migrants at the border.

  • Republicans are falsely accusing Biden of allowing open borders.

  • Top Democrats and activists are comparing Biden to Trump as he moves to deport thousands.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Biden administration is facing criticism from all angles over its handling of an influx of Haitian migrants at the US-Mexico border.

Republicans baselessly accuse President Joe Biden of opening America's borders to immigrants. Meanwhile, as Biden moves to deport thousands of Haitians, top Democrats and activists are comparing his immigration policy to former President Donald Trump's.

"Joe Biden is presiding over lawless open borders," GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said in a tweet earlier this week, even as the administration began actively deporting Haitian migrants who've fled violence, poverty, and political turmoil.

"There is a growing crisis in Del Rio, Texas and across the southern border. Biden's open borders policies created this mess," the Republican National Committee tweeted on Thursday.

Seemingly regardless of what Biden does on immigration, Republicans and their right-wing media allies continue to falsely accuse him of opening America's doors to anyone and everyone.

"You've got to ask yourself, as you watch the historic tragedy that is Joe Biden's immigration policy, what's the point of this? Nothing about it is an accident, obviously. It is intentional. Biden did it on purpose. But why? Why would a president do this to his own country? No sane, first-world nation opens its borders to the world," Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his show on Wednesday, while peddling the white supremacist "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory.

The GOP's primary talking point on immigration has been that Biden's desire to offer a pathway to citizenship to roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants has induced a crisis at the border. "As tens of thousands of illegal immigrants come across the border, Joe Biden promises them citizenship," GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted last on Friday. "He's making this crisis much worse."

But as Biden uses a Trump era rule to deport Haitians, his allies are accusing him of reneging on his pledge to take a more humane approach to immigration than his predecessor.

Democrats and activists compare Biden to Trump

"The question that's being asked now is: How are you actually different than Trump?" Marisa Franco, the executive director of the Latino civil rights organization Mijente, told the New York Times. "You campaigned that immigration was one of the places where Trump was inhumane and failed. And last time I checked, Trump is not the president."

The Biden administration has continued to use a Trump era public health policy, a law known as Title 42, to expel migrants and deny them an opportunity to apply for asylum - and it's defended the law in court. The Trump administration began invoking the law in March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spiral out of control (and as Trump simultaneously downplayed the threat of the virus).

A New York Times review of government data found that officials caught people crossing the southwestern border roughly 1.24 million times from February to August, and Title 42 was used to turn them away 56% of the time.

Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have called on Biden to halt expulsions and end the use of Title 42.

"I urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions and to end this Title 42 policy at our southern border," Schumer said. "We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws. We must allow asylum seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and be afforded due process."

"Haitians fleeing violence & the lack of a credible government in Haiti are being treated like animals," Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California said in a tweet on Tuesday. "U.S. government cowboys on horses used whips on Haitians as they sought refuge. Why are we following the Trump policies? This horrendous treatment of Haitians must STOP NOW."

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prominent progressives in Congress, in a tweet described the situation at the border as a "stain on our country."

The White House this week fervently decried images of Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping at Haitian migrants.

"What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were, was horrible. And I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into exactly what is going on there," Vice President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday.

But the administration's words have seemingly been insufficient to top civil rights organizations.

"The humanitarian crisis happening under this administration on the southern border disgustingly mirrors some of the darkest moments in America's history," Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, said in a statement. "If we were to close our eyes and this was occurring under the Trump administration, what would we do? The inhumane treatment of the Haitian refugees seeking help is utterly sickening."

A US Border Patrol agent on horseback grabbing a Haitian migrant.
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. Paul Ratje/Getty Images

'Inhumane, counterproductive'

Thousands of Haitian migrants have crossed the border in recent weeks, gathering in a makeshift camp in terrible conditions under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

Haiti's president was assassinated in July, launching the already embattled country into further turmoil. Its capital, Port-au-Prince, is overrun by violent gangs. And the country is also still reeling from a devastating earthquake that killed over 2,000 in August.

But the Biden administration has been adamant that Haitians, and other migrants, should not come to the US.

"If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned," Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas said earlier this week.

Deportation flights to Haiti began on Sunday.

As a result of the Biden administration's approach to the massive influx of Haitian migrants, the US special envoy to Haiti resigned.

Ambassador Daniel Foote, a career diplomat, wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and said he won't be associated with the US's "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 in control of daily life."

The evolving crisis at the border comes on the heels of the Afghanistan withdrawal, which also led to widespread, bipartisan criticism.

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