Democrats and the N.A.A.C.P. Express Outrage Over Treatment of Haitian Migrants

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said that the administration could not “continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws.”,

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Key Biden allies express outrage over Border Patrol’s treatment of Haitian migrants.

U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Sunday.Credit…Paul Ratje/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Sept. 21, 2021Updated 4:43 p.m. ET

Democrats and civil rights leaders expressed outrage on Tuesday toward the Biden administration’s treatment of Haitian migrants in response to images and video of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing down and blocking migrants.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, speaking from the Senate floor, said that the images were “completely unacceptable.”

He said that the administration could not “continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws,” adding that asylum seekers must be afforded due process.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, echoed those comments, calling the images “horrific and disturbing.”

And in a statement, Derrick Johnson, the president of the N.A.A.C.P., also compared the practices of the Border Patrol agents to the inhumane immigration policies of the Trump administration.

“The humanitarian crisis happening under this administration on the southern border disgustingly mirrors some of the darkest moments in America’s history,” Mr. Johnson said. “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.”

The Homeland Security Department, which includes the Border Patrol, said on Monday it was investigating what was shown in the footage.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment but Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday described the images as “horrible.” She said she planned to discuss the matter with Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary.

“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,” she said.

The criticism from a leading civil rights organization was the latest sign that the crisis at the border is alarming some outside groups whose counsel Mr. Biden has turned to and whose support he has courted since the campaign.

On Tuesday, Mr. Johnson demanded a meeting at the White House to discuss the refugee crisis. “In the words of William Clay, ‘We have no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, only permanent interests,'” Mr. Johnson said. “The N.A.A.C.P. only has permanent interests. We look forward to our meeting with the President.”

Mr. Biden, a lifelong member of the organization, has met with Mr. Johnson multiple times since his election. Their last meeting was on July 8, when they discussed strategy to pass legislation on voting rights.

The rise in Haitian migration began in the months after Mr. Biden took office and as the administration began reversing Trump-era immigration policies. That was interpreted by many as a sign that the United States would be more welcoming to migrants. In May, the administration extended temporary protected status for the 150,000 Haitians already living in the country and that was extended again over the summer for Haitians living in the U.S. before July 29.

But thousands started crossing the border into the town of Del Rio, Texas, last week, in what Mr. Mayorkas on Tuesday called an “unprecendented” increase of migrants crossing one part of the southern border.

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