Last month, amid record numbers of migrants entering the country illegally, President Joe Biden ordered changes to U.S. asylum policy. Under the guise of expediting the decision making process, the administration’s new rule made it even easier for people to exploit our already overwhelmed political asylum process by allowing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) personnel, rather than immigration judges, to make initial determinations about the validity of claims. The agency is overseen by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas who ran USCIS under then-President Obama and had a documented record of pressuring agency personnel to bend rules and ignore fraud in an effort to “get to yes.”
The rule change was quickly followed by a new grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals in the wake of the assassination of the country’s president, an earthquake, and a devastating storm. Despite the word temporary in the name of the program, everyone knows that once granted TPS, recipients are here for good.
One month later, we are seeing the results. In addition to the steady flow of primarily Central American migrants who have been exploiting the Biden administration’s abandonment of border and immigration enforcement, the prospect of getting into the U.S. with a patently bogus asylum request has attracted a surge of Haitian migrants.
While conditions in Haiti exceed even the normal awfulness of that country, very few of those crossing the Rio Grande River near Del Rio, Texas, qualify for political asylum or TPS. Though they may be citizens of Haiti, almost none of them have actually lived in Haiti for many years. “[S]ome of these people have been in Mexico or in Central America or in Latin America for years, well before the recent earthquake, well before the assassination of Haiti’s president,” reports Joey Palacios, who is covering the story for PBS News Hour. Rather, “these are people that have heard that, you know, that this is the area to come to where they get the best, probably the best chance of getting into the U.S.”
This latest self-induced crisis is also exceeding the human misery the Biden administration has created to date. As many as 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants have taken shelter under a bridge in Del Rio, in one hundred-plus degree heat, with no sanitation, or adequate food and potable water. Although Mayorkas is describing what is going on as “a challenging situation,” conditions are so horrific that the Biden administration has attempted extraordinary steps to hide them from the American public by having the Federal Aviation Administration impose at least a partial ban on drones flying in the area.
The administration has begun deporting at least some of the people who have crossed Rio Grande illegally back to Haiti (presumably because the countries where they have been living will not take them back), but many more are getting in. And until the Biden administration finally decides to change course, there is little reason to believe the latest disaster will abate any time soon.