US knew about Haitians headed to the border in July but progressives fought efforts to discourage them from coming

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Last month, Panama’s foreign minister said she had been warning anyone who would listen for months that tens of thousands of Haitian migrants were headed to the US border. Today NBC News confirms those claims in a report that says US officials knew about the surge of Haitian migrants back in July, months before 15,000 of them wound up camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis all had information as far back as July that indicated that large groups of Haitians were making their way north from South and Central America to the U.S. border, the three officials said. But the intelligence was not shared widely enough within DHS and across agencies to indicate the size or speed of the group of migrants or that they would all arrive in one location.

In an interview Sept. 20 in Del Rio, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “I don’t think we expected the rapidity of the increase that occurred.”

The failure to react to the warnings wasn’t simply the result of ignorance. Some within the Biden administration argued that deportations of Haitians who were already in the country illegally could be increased as a way to signal to Haitian migrants in South America that there was no point in coming to the US border. But according to two sources, progressives within the Biden administration fought against that plan and won.

The two officials said some argued that deportations — even of small numbers — would deter more people from coming, particularly Haitians living in South America. Others maintained that it would be inhumane to send Haitians back to a country in turmoil after the assassination of its president and, on Aug. 14, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

Ultimately, the Biden administration opted not to ramp up deportations, and it then halted all deportation flights to the impoverished island country shortly after the earthquake. By mid-September, seeing the large numbers massing in Del Rio, ICE restarted the flights, and it has now deported more than 7,200 migrants to Haiti.

All of this isn’t just an academic argument over who was right or wrong. There are still as many as 60,000 Haitians headed to the border with tens of thousands more setting out from Colombia this month. NBC News reported last week that the Biden administration was expecting as many as 400,000 migrants at the border this month, which is more than some entire fiscal years of border apprehensions.

Numbers like that don’t just happen. They are partly the result of situations like the earthquake in Haiti but also just as significant are the signals being sent by the Biden administration to would-be migrants and to smugglers who deliver them to the border. Since he took office, Biden has been sending the message that he is reversing Trump’s border crackdown.

Now we learn that this summer another decision by progressives kept the administration from even attempting to discourage tens of thousands of migrants from coming. This is the new normal and it’s probably not going to stop so long as the Biden administration is more concerned about shielding the illegal immigrants who are here and criticizing the border patrol than it is about discouraging millions more from coming here to make mostly bogus asylum claims.