September 21, 2021 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
‘Law and order’ doesn’t mean keeping 10,000 Haitians out. It means letting them all in. It’s keeping them out that’s lawless
No, this isn’t about public health.
We need to talk more about the situation in Del Rio, Texas, where over 10,000 Haitians are living under a bridge. The first thing you need to know, and perhaps the last thing you need to know, is that this situation, like all others before it, does not constitute a border crisis.
That’s correct. There is no border crisis. Indeed, there has never been a border crisis. There will never be a border crisis. The whole notion of “border crisis” is the product of two things. One, GOP propaganda that whips up fury against poor migrants for political reasons. Two, more than 20 years of failed border policy by the United States government.
In Del Rio, Texas, there’s no food, no water, no sanitation, nothing. It’s a humanitarian crisis that immigration authorities are allowing to worsen, probably because that justifies whatever action they already wanted to take.
The Republicans want you to believe the mere fact of poor migrants showing up at the border is a border crisis. They want you to believe the inability to prevent people from showing up at the border is a border crisis. They want you to believe brown people, but especially Black people, especially Black people in large numbers, showing up at the border is a profound border crisis. It never was. It never will be.
The only crisis involving poor migrants is one of the United States government’s own making, and that’s because the Republicans have been very successful at whipping up fury against poor migrants. They have whipped up so much fury that it now seems like the mere fact that poor migrants show up at the border at all, especially Black people in larger numbers, represents a systemic breakdown of law and order.
The irony is that there is a systemic breakdown of law and order. Only it’s not poor migrants who are responsible for it. It’s authorities of the United States government and the Republicans who are advancing the lie that white people are so far above the law they can force the law to beat down people who have the right to the law’s protection. The solution, therefore, is as simple as it is difficult to implement. It’s for the United States government to conduct itself according to the law and the rest of us to tell the Republicans to stop lying about it.
Here’s the tip jar!
Every single one of those Haitians living under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, is legally entitled to the right to claim political asylum in the United States. I’m guessing, but all of them appear qualified given their home country just experienced another massive earthquake in the middle of political turmoil involving the assassination of a president. But they are entitled to more than that. Under federal law, the United States government is required to provide a process by which migrants claim asylum. The United States government is therefore responsible for these migrants while the process of asylum-seeking unfolds.
The law is one thing. Law enforcement is another. Those 10,000-plus Haitians living under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, have been neglected by United States immigration authorities, according to reporting by Al Jazeera. There’s no food, no water, no sanitation, nothing. It’s a humanitarian crisis that authorities are allowing to worsen, probably because that justifies whatever action they already wanted to take.
Cue the white men on horseback cracking whips. Thanks to the El Paso Times, we all saw images Monday of mounted Border Patrol agents trying to stop Haitians from crossing the Rio Grande. They tried forcing them back to Mexico. Thing is, though, they had already crossed. They went to buy food and supplies. There was none or not enough in Del Rio. And anyway, a few men on horses weren’t going to stop people who had already walked thousands of miles to get to America. As the Editorial Board’s Richard Sudan keeps saying: No one can stop people so desperate they leave everything behind them. The spectacle was as absurd and ridiculous as it was sadistic and cruel.
It would have been illegal, too, except for the Biden administration’s continued invocation of Title 42. That’s a rule permitting immigration authorities to expel migrants to prevent the spread of infection disease. The Trump administration invoked it at the start of the covid pandemic. In response to the El Paso Times’ reporting on Monday, Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “We are in the midst of a pandemic and a critical migration challenge.” He added: “We continue to exercise the Centers for Disease Control’s title 42 authority. It is not an immigration authority, but a public health authority.” Yeah, but no.
That might have been plausible when covid vaccines didn’t exist. That is totally implausible when they are now everywhere. Indeed, it’s so implausible one gets the feeling that the administration is avoiding the hard work of forcing lawless law enforcement officers to enforce the law. One gets the feeling that the administration would rather not deal with the systemic breakdown of law and order at the southern border that the Republicans are blaming on poor migrants. One gets the feeling the president would rather this “border crisis” go away.
It would go away if the United States government conducted itself according to the law. The Republicans will never stop lying, though.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.