On Saturday, we learned that the White House was finalizing a plan to begin flying the roughly 14,000 Haitian illegal aliens camped out under an overpass near Del Rio, Texas back to their home country. Reporters managed to interview some of the migrants, with several telling them that they had no intention of being sent back to Haiti. Instead, they planned to request asylum and enter into the usual processing system so they could remain in the United States.
But as of last night, in a welcome and encouraging development, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, working with DHS, instituted a change of plans. Three flights carrying more than 300 of the Haitian migrants were loaded up at a Texas airport and dropped off in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. That was the first of what are anticipated to be as many as seven flights daily. Also, the federal government moved in to shut down the border and stop the flow of people going back and forth across the shallow section of the river where they are camped. This is one of the strongest showings of securing a section of the border we have seen since Joe Biden took office. (Associated Press)
The U.S. is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico in a massive show of force that signals the beginning of what could be one of America’s swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades.
More than 320 migrants arrived in Port-au-Prince on three flights Sunday, and Haiti said six flights were expected Tuesday. In all, U.S. authorities moved to expel many of the more 12,000 migrants camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
The U.S. plans to begin seven expulsion flights daily on Wednesday, four to Port-au-Prince and three to Cap-Haitien, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Flights will continue to depart from San Antonio but authorities may add El Paso, the official said.
I don’t know where this sudden change of heart came from at the White House, but it’s a welcome sign. After the border crossing by the overpass was shut down, Haitians continued to find other places to cross, traveling as much as two miles along the border in either direction. But in a surprising show of solidarity and cooperation, both Federal and Texas law enforcement officers lined the border and began turning the migrants back to Mexico.
The first flights to Haiti were departing from San Antonio, meaning that the migrants had to be loaded onto buses and transferred there to be put on the planes. Officials said they may add more flights out of El Paso this week. I had originally assumed that they might use the facilities at Laughlin Air Force Base, which is only a stone’s throw away from Del Rio, but apparently, the White House isn’t bringing the military into this operation.
Now the operation will come down to a numbers game, assuming we carry through with the entire plan. If they only managed to put 320 migrants on three flights, they aren’t using very large planes like the military transports that brought most (not all) of our people out of Kabul. Averaging a little over 100 people per flight, it’s going to take a while to fly 14,000 of them out of the country. One immigration official on the scene estimated that they could remove them all within a week, but even moving 800 per day, it will likely take longer than that.
It’s a rare day when we get to shower much praise on Joe Biden in terms of immigration policy. In fact, I can’t think of one other instance since he took office. But this operation is at least a step in the right direction. If the Biden border crisis can somehow be brought back under control, that will be far better than anything we’ve seen thus far. But the one question I can’t avoid asking is why all of the liberal immigration activists in Joe Biden’s base and the media seem to be so quiet about this. If Trump had been the one shipping 14,000 migrants back to a country plagued by unrest and earthquakes, the howls would be deafening. But since it’s Biden doing it, are Democrats suddenly the “tough on illegal aliens” party now?