What does the Biden administration’s “whole of government” response look like with thousands of Haitians pouring across the Rio Grande into the Texas town of Del Rio? Not good.
U.S. Border Patrol was caught flat-footed, and quickly overwhelmed, when migrants began appearing en masse a week ago. U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s initial response was to close the international bridge in order to focus on Haitians wading across the river. Then officers pulled back from riverbanks, leaving their posts to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“We now have one third of the population of Del Rio in a confined space, under the International Bridge,” said Mayor Bruno Lozano, a Democrat who expressed frustration with a lack of effective response from Washington.
While Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz confidently talked up a “whole of government” operation, rank-and-file officers pointed to deteriorating conditions on the ground. “There’s literally sh*t everywhere. They aren’t using the portapotties. Condoms on the ground. People screaming. Kids crying. Looks like a 3rd world country down here, NOT America,” one agent related in an online post over the weekend.
And where was Vice President Kamala Harris, tasked by President Joe Biden to address the root causes of migration? She was flipping a coin at a college football game in Washington.
Harris and her colleagues should have had an inkling of what was coming south of the border. According to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the flood of Haitians was loosed by the Mexican government and steered toward Del Rio, where cartels do not charge for border crossings.
“Mexico’s decision presents a clear diplomatic affront to the Biden administration, transferring a significant threat management and humanitarian challenge to America, not to mention a potential political problem for the Biden administration,” CIS’ Todd Bensman reported from Del Rio.
With tens of thousands more Haitians (and others) continuing to make their way north through Mexico, Border Patrol agents are ramping up “processing.” This involves fingerprinting and issuing notices to appear in immigration court at some long-distant date. Families are typically released within 48 hours.
Deportation flights have begun transporting mainly single adult men back to Haiti, though many have not lived there for years. Many, many more Haitian asylum seekers are simply being shuttled to other locations in the U.S., where they will make themselves at home.
Amid the quagmire in Del Rio, the Federal Aviation Administration tried to ground all non-governmental drones. Scoring a lone victory for transparency, Fox News won an exemption, but Team Biden’s “whole of government” strategy seems clear enough – keep the bad optics out of sight, and out of mind.