The Biden Administration’s Deportation of Haitian Migrants: A Shameful Policy

President Joe Biden’s administration has received a lot of flack from critics in recent weeks and days on a number of issues: the handling of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the response to the Coronavirus, and his handling of some diplomatic difficulties (to put it mildly) with one of our longtime allies (France), to name a few. But in this post, I am not zeroing in on any of these issues, but a different one: his administration’s deportation of Haitian migrants. It’s an issue that was “blind” to many when I first drafted this post. While it is not blind now, especially with our seeing images of the inhumane treatment of migrants, this is too important of an issue for me to stay silent on.

Before going into a critique of Biden’s policy with Haitian migrants at the United States-Mexico border, I should start by acknowledging the difficulty of two parties involved in the current situation: the Haitian migrants themselves, as well as the city of Del Rio, Texas.

The current political, economic, and humanitarian strife Haiti faces is well-documented. There was the massive earthquake in 2010 that destroyed parts of the country. Adding insult to injury was the killing of their president and another earthquake that killed over 2,000 people.[1] Haiti is a country in crisis, and many of the people who live there—or lived there before leaving for elsewhere—are desperate.

Yet, at the same time, as of Friday, September 17th, there were 12,000 migrants at a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. That is a severe influx for a city as relatively small as Del Rio (about 35,000 people), and a city that has already been severely strained from influxes of migrant flows in recent months.[2] While I’m not “on the ground” at the Untied States-Mexico border at Del Rio, I have no reason not to believe Del Rio’s mayor when he says that the situation there is “unsustainable.”[3]

Considering the issues that both the migrants as well as the city of Del Rio face, there is a severe need to process the Haitian migrants at the border with a great deal of speed. That much I think people of a variety of political stripes could agree on. What’s shameful, however, is that, for the most part, it is processing so that these migrants can be deported back to Haiti, without even as much as an opportunity to seek asylum.[4] While there are reports in recent days of Haitian migrants being released on a “very, very large scale” (in a number estimated to be in the thousands),[5] this does not undo the large-scale horrible acts of this mass deportation of Haitians. And this is not something that’s being done by Trump—it’s being done by Biden.

Ironically, what has helped the Biden team do this is a Trump-era policy where, under a pandemic-related order, most migrants can be deported without even getting an asylum hearing. Biden chose to exempt children travelling alone from the policy,[6] which is better than nothing, but is nowhere near far enough when you’re dealing with people from a country with a level of humanitarian crisis as severe as Haiti’s. In fact, the Biden administration is able to deport as many Haitians as they are because the exemption is so limited. And, as a result, the administration is literally deporting people back to the country in crisis that they sought to escape from. It really is a shameful policy.

Critics of my view would argue that “we, the United States of America, cannot handle these migrants.” It’s the sort of view held by people like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who directed the Texas National Guard to shut down the entry points at the Texas-Mexico border, only to backtrack.[7] First of all, I am hard-pressed to imagine that a country that has recently sent billionaires into space can’t find a way to handle Haitian migrants. But even if my imagination is a bit narrow, and even if you’re sympathetic to Governor Abbott’s view, the following question must be asked: If the United States can’t handle the Haitian migrants, what then for the migrants? Send them back to a country where for many, there is no safety and no economic hope? Send them back to a place whose health care infrastructure is significantly worse than that of the United States (flawed as our health care infrastructure is in this country) during the middle of a pandemic, in turn potentially making the pandemic worse in Haiti, and perhaps even the rest of the world (including the United States itself)?[8]

A humanitarian crisis requires a humanitarian response. The humanitarian crisis in Haiti requires a humanitarian response from the United States and other countries that are much better-resourced than Haiti. Deporting people to the country in crisis is not it, and regardless of whether we are talking about Haiti, Honduras, or any other country experiencing strife. Biden, and the United States, needs to do better.

Author’s Note: USA Today has an article listing organizations that are helping with the Haitian earthquake recovery and/or the current migrant crisis. Unfortunately, USA Today also has a paywall with many (if not all) of its articles these days, so I’m going to provide links here to organizations that are helping with the migrant crisis, per the aforementioned article:


[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-increases-deportations-to-haiti-amid-spike-in-border-arrivals-in-del-rio/

[2] https://www.npr.org/2021/09/17/1038482663/u-s-plans-to-deport-massive-number-of-haitians-from-del-rio-texas-an-official-sa

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-increases-deportations-to-haiti-amid-spike-in-border-arrivals-in-del-rio/

[4] https://apnews.com/article/immigration-border-haiti-mexico-texas-09d7de5bc57e1dbd92d40751c0d91f69.

[5] https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/officials-haitian-migrants-released-us-80163717

[6] https://www.npr.org/2021/09/17/1038482663/u-s-plans-to-deport-massive-number-of-haitians-from-del-rio-texas-an-official-sa

[7] https://www.texastribune.org/2021/09/16/migrants-haitians-del-rio-bridge-texas/

[8] The United States has the 37th ranked health care system in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Haiti’s is ranked 138th: https://photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html

Hope Is Lost For Voting Rights Expansions…Or Is It?

A “Vote” sign

Republicans in the United States Senate were able to successfully stall the “For the People Act”, a bill that Democrats argued was designed to help expand voting rights and fight off some of the attempts to curtail certain voting rights in some Republican states.[1]

With this came a feeling of despair among many liberals, since a bill pushing for an expansion of voting rights, such as more voting registration options and vote-by-mail, failed. For many, it feels like all hope is lost for voting rights expansions.

Or is it?

I pose this question in light of the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the state of Georgia over its voting law, which “alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” according to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland.[2] On the legal end, this may only be the first act with regards to addressing laws on voting that critics say make it more difficult for some people to vote.[3]

I also pose this question in light of an executive order from President Biden I learned the other day—an executive order that broadly focuses on access to voting.[4] Within that executive order is a lot of material with regards to expanding voter education and access within the laws already on the books. That expansion includes, but is not limited to:

  • Work towards expanding the ability of federal employees to take time off and still vote in elections.[5]
  • Work towards giving federal employees more ability to serve as non-partisan poll workers.[6]
  • The issuing of recommendations of how to expand voter access limitations that people with disabilities experience.[7]
  • The issuing of recommendations for protecting the voting rights of Native Americans.[8]
  • Voter education among those in federal custody, consistent with laws already on the books.[9]

Now, let me be crystal clear here—all the executive order seems to be trying to do is push for an expansion of voter access and voting rights within the limitations of the laws already on the books, and all the Garland-led Justice Department seems to be doing is addressing what the Justice Department believes to be a violation of voting rights laws already in place. Neither Garland’s action nor Biden’s is an expansion of laws like one would have seen if the For the People Act passed both chambers of Congress and was signed by President Biden, nor should either action be treated as such.

At the same time, it’s not like nothing is happening on the voting rights front. There isn’t nearly as much happening as many (myself included) would like, but the push at the national level to expand voting rights is far from over.

And here’s the thing—that work towards voter expansion still has some chapters left in it. In line with that executive order I mentioned earlier in the blog post, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting information from voters on barriers that keep people with disabilities from voting privately and independently. In other words, people have an opportunity to comment on what sorts of barriers exist when it comes to voting with dignity. In turn, NIST will use responses to inform a report expected to be released this December offering recommendations on how to address said barriers.[10] So, in a way, we the people (particularly disability advocates and people with disabilities) may yet have an influence on recommendations offered by a federal agency on how to expand voter access for people with disabilities.

So, is it disappointing for many (myself included) that voting rights legislation was defeated? Absolutely. But in spite of that defeat, there is still work that has been done (through the executive order from President Biden and the lawsuit against Georgia brought forth by Garland’s Justice Department), as well as work still to do.


[1] https://www.npr.org/2021/06/22/1008737806/democrats-sweeping-voting-rights-legislation-is-headed-for-failure-in-the-senate

[2] https://www.npr.org/2021/06/25/1010259443/in-suing-georgia-justice-department-says-states-new-voting-law-targets-black-vot

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/03/07/executive-order-on-promoting-access-to-voting/

[5] https://www.fedweek.com/federal-managers-daily-report/order-on-voting-sets-tasks-for-agencies-opens-way-for-broader-paid-time-off-to-vote/

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2021/06/nist-seeks-public-input-removing-barriers-voting-people-disabilities?fbclid=IwAR3nWLn1mV6eTodlvC4Pl1SZRsz8e7WUQsfT7KYyKRUbgSZs0PjgXbhJdbc

[8] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/03/07/executive-order-on-promoting-access-to-voting/

[9] Ibid.

[10] https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2021/06/nist-seeks-public-input-removing-barriers-voting-people-disabilities?fbclid=IwAR3nWLn1mV6eTodlvC4Pl1SZRsz8e7WUQsfT7KYyKRUbgSZs0PjgXbhJdbc

Coronavirus Update From New York City: January 21, 2021

Yesterday was a joyful day for those who supported President Biden, and a mournful day for the few who support Former President Trump. However, the reality still remains that COVID-19 is a major concern, even though we have recently seen a new President of the United States sworn in.

In the United States, we learned on Tuesday that we have surpassed 400,000 deaths. That is a sobering number, and there’s no way to spin it. I remember when many of us were shocked of the talk of the potential for 100,000 deaths from the pandemic, and now we are at a death toll four times that.

In my neighborhood, the COVID positivity rate has ticked down slightly, but has remained way too high for comfort. The positivity rate is now just over 13% in my zip code, which is down from the 15% or so we were at as of last week but nevertheless uncomfortably high. Furthermore, data seems to indicate that Jamaica Hospital in Queens–the hospital closest to where I live, continues to be under immense stress from COVID-19 patients.

Also of concern is that, at least according to our mayor, New York City is going to run out of COVID vaccines by the end of this week.[1] We are now to the point that New York City is canceling vaccine appointments due to the shortages.[2] So that is concerning, particularly for those vulnerable to experiencing severe consequences from the virus.

The one sliver of hope is that the Biden administration will employ the Defense Production Act in order to ensure a quicker vaccine rollout.[3] Seeing the impacts of the Defense Production Act on vaccine distribution in New York City, and nationwide, cannot come soon enough.[4]


[1] https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2021/01/19/nyc-will-run-out-of-vaccines-by-friday–forcing-appointment-cancellations–de-blasio-says

[2] https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2021/01/20/vaccine-appointments-cancelled-in-new-york-city

[3] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/live-blog/2021-01-21-covid-live-updates-vaccine-news-n1255115/ncrd1255206#liveBlogHeader

[4] You can read an explanation of the Defense Production Act here: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/defense-production-act