Despite crossing the southern border illegally in the middle of a pandemic, Haitian migrants are baffled that U.S. immigration officials are removing them from the country under Title 42—a public health order that enables U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to quickly remove unlawful migrants at the southern border in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
According to a Buzzfeed News report, Haitians at the southern border do not feel that they are getting the opportunity to explain why they are coming to America and seeking protection. They also fear that they cannot return to Haiti due to the country’s economic and political conditions.
While the Buzzfeed report portrays the situation as grave and inhumane of the U.S., it is omitting several realities of the situation.
Recently, Haitian migrants are only being apprehended and removed from the country if they are crossing the southern border unlawfully or have remained in the country unlawfully. They are not guaranteed traditional due process or protections that are typically granted to those seeking asylum at a U.S. port of entry or who have legal status in the country.
While it is true that Title 42 expedites the removal process for unlawful migrants, the order remains necessary more than ever as the country continues to combat one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the world. Without this order in place, the country would likely see an increase in COVID-19 as many migrants—including from Haiti—are arriving from severe at-risk areas for the disease.
President Biden’s press secretary and head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have acknowledged the reality of this situation and have publicly stated that now is not the time for migrants come to the border.
The Buzzfeed report further alludes that because the U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory to Haiti, it is inhumane and not possible to return unlawful migrants there. But if that same logic were applied to the countries where the vast majority of unlawful migrants come from—particularly the Northern Triangle countries—virtually no one would be removed from the country. This approach would be unprecedented—even for a Democratic administration.
The State Department has issued travel advisories to “reconsider travel” to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Brazil. If immigration officials cannot return migrants to countries that the State Department has issued travel advisories for, tens of thousands of migrants would not be returned even though they have entered the country unlawfully.
The situation for Haitians is unfortunate. But crossing illegally into the country and/or remaining in the country unlawfully for an extended period of time does not automatically permit an illegal alien to remain in the country permanently.
At a certain point, our nation’s laws must be enforced to prioritize the interests of legal U.S. residents—especially during a global pandemic. Buzzfeed refuses to provide this context and instead purports a narrative that is based on emotions rather than reality.
Removing Title 42 during the COVID-19 pandemic or halting deportations would exacerbate our nation’s current border crisis and decimate the nation’s border security and immigration enforcement.