Joe Biden, Immigration Enforcer?

The London Times offers a perspective on the Haitian assault on our Southern border that is both weirdly ill-informed and unintentionally revealing: “Joe Biden treats us like slaves say deported Haitian refugees.” The story is told entirely from the perspective of the Haitians who, having left that country years ago for destinations like Brazil, have now been sent by the U.S. to Haiti:

His hands were bound and his ankles tied during the five-hour flight on a US government chartered passenger plane. Junior Ruben was being sent back to Haiti, a country he had left seven years ago, and that he had no intention of returning to of his own free will.
“What do they think? That we are slaves, transported around the world in handcuffs, like in the old days?” he said.

Nowhere in the Times account is there any acknowledgement that the U.S. has immigration laws, and that thousands of uninvited “migrants” can’t just walk across the border. And the central outrage, per the Times, is that the U.S. has sent these would-be illegal immigrants to Haiti, a place they left long ago:

The repatriation programme seems inexplicable and cruel to its victims. None of the returnees I spoke to this week had been in their country of birth for the past three years. Almost all were until recently working in Brazil and Chile, having left Haiti legally.

What the Times reporter either doesn’t know or prefers not to mention is that under American law, you can’t be a refugee from Haiti if you have been living for years in a safe country like Brazil or Chile. This is why the “refugees” who presented themselves in Del Rio, Texas claimed to be fleeing Haiti and, according to news reports, discarded their Brazilian or Chilean identification. Taking them at their word, U.S. authorities have returned some of them to the country from which they falsely claimed to be fleeing.

The Times story, while utterly misguided, contains interesting information about the nature of the Haitian assault on the border:

Like all the deportees, he was back in Haiti because of a dire miscalculation. In Chile, he had begun to escape the grinding poverty that he knew in Haiti. He thought his life could once again be improved by moving to the United States. The 4,000-mile journey from Chile to Texas had cost him every penny of his savings. And now he was back where he began.

Ruben had a similarly disastrous story. He had been in Brazil since 2014, after the Brazilian government offered visa-free travel for construction workers like him. He moved to Mato Grosso, an affluent agricultural state where much of the world’s soybean crop is grown. He was earning good money as a builder, enough to send dollars to his family back home.

Last year, things started getting difficult. …

A person who would like to move to a more prosperous country is not a refugee.

In June, he said, news began to spread among the Haitian community in South America that crossing to the United States had become easier under the Biden administration. Borders across the continent were also reopening as Covid-19 restrictions eased. It seemed that there was a window of opportunity.

Ruben insists that he was not just following rumours. “Lots of people I knew had made it across. I spoke to them. They were in Florida. Some were making the same in an hour that I was earning in a day,” he said.
Arriving, exhausted, at the Del Rio bridge and seeing the United States for the first time, Edouard convinced himself that all the effort he and Maricia had made would somehow be rewarded. “I honestly thought the Americans were going to welcome us,” he said.

The misunderstanding is both understandable and inexcusable. Joe Biden’s professed indifference to the immigration laws and the reality of lax enforcement (“Lots of people I knew had made it across”) lured thousands of Haitians, or former Haitians, to the border.

It is ironic, to say the least, to see Biden portrayed in the international press as an immigration Scrooge:

Biden has been accused of directly following the playbook of his predecessor Donald Trump by taking an unexpectedly aggressive line on immigration.

The administration has been anything but aggressive in enforcing the immigration laws, but the little Biden has done is indeed “unexpected,” since he has consistently portrayed himself as an enemy of immigration law enforcement. To the extent his administration is doing anything now, it is out of political necessity. Along with the American people, the losers include those who were lured to the border because of Biden’s fecklessness.

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