Undisclosed Number of Haitian Refugees Brought Into Tucson
By Corinne Murdock |
Over the past week, Tucson has begun to receive a number of Haitians transported from the Texas border. It is unclear how many Haitians will be brought in; AZ Free News requested those numbers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Pima County, and the various organizations that assist refugees under the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program. In various reports, Tucson City Councilmember Steve Kozachik indicated that the numbers were large.
AZ Free News also inquired about the vetting procedures for these refugees, if any, and how the government was determining who qualified for refugee status. The entities we questioned either didn’t respond to any of our inquiries by press time or said they couldn’t offer information to the press.
The Biden Administration is resettling Haitians after determining that their number has become a burden to border patrol in Texas. Over 15,000 were estimated to be under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas as of the past week. Tucson officials claim their intake of Haitians is temporary – one to two days, at most according to Kozachik.
The Haitian refugees are either being bussed or flown into Tucson. Once there, they are processed by immigration services and either taken to hotels or Casa Alitas, a shelter run by Catholic Community Services (CCS). Within several days, officials will contact the alien’s next-of-kin or sponsor.
CCS and Casa Alitas told AZ Free News that they aren’t answering press inquiries at this time. We also attempted to contact Pima County – they own the building where CCS operates Casa Alitas. They didn’t respond by press time.
The refugee arrivals report from the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program didn’t document any Haitian refugees, per its updated numbers last Thursday.
Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) questioned how these Haitians were reaching American soil. He noted that Haitians weren’t just coming into Texas – they’d been coming into Yuma as far back as May. Haiti to Arizona is a journey of nearly 2,800 miles.
“Many Haitians are crossing into Yuma as well. In [sic] met dozens in May 2021. All well fed. Clean,” wrote Gosar. “They did not “journey” to our border by foot. They were flown. Who is paying?
Many Haitians are crossing into Yuma as well. In met dozens in May 2021. All well fed. Clean. They did not “journey” to our border by foot. They were flown. Who is paying? https://t.co/w9VID5V7zJ pic.twitter.com/wgLm7FDgeT
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) September 22, 2021
Rather than addressing the crisis-level surge of illegal immigrants at the border, leaving Haitians to crowd together as squatters under a bridge with minimal resources, Vice President Kamala Harris focused her concern on the allegations of poor treatment of the Haitians. She said she was “outraged” by claims that border patrol agents on horseback were whipping the Haitians. The vice president called it “horrible” and claimed it resembled slavery. She said there should be “consequences and accountability” for the border patrol agents.
“And as we all know, it also evoked images of some of the worst moments of our history, where that kind of behavior has been used against the indigenous people of our country, has been used against African-Americans during times of slavery,” stated Harris.
The National Border Patrol Council, among many others, debunked claims that border patrol were whipping illegal immigrants. They shared a corrective post from the Border Patrol Horse Patrol.
“Those are split reins; not whips, they are 6 feet long. They are split for when we go into the brush. If we go through thick brush and a tree branch gets caught, it will just slip right through. The reins are connected to the bit. The bit is in their mouth and the last thing we want to do is hurt our partners by tearing up their mouths,” read the post. “You have seen the video of the agent spinning the rein when illegals get close to the horse. It’s to create distance between the horse and the person on the ground. Our horses easily weigh 1200 pounds, they can step on someone and break a bone or kill a small child [if] a person gets too close. We also spin them if someone attempts to grab the reins because the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t know a thing about horses, to have control of the horse you are on. (If an illegal attempts to gain control of our reins it is considered deadly.) The horse can freak out, jump up and roll with you on them. Us as riders can be killed if a horse lands on us. Hope this helps those who have never seen a horse or split reins before… we will continue to support our brothers and sisters in Del Río.”
Even the photographer who captured the viral images of border patrol holding reins near the Haitians clarified that no agents were “whipping” the illegal immigrants.
Regardless of the fact that these claims were false, the Biden Administration immediately ordered border patrol to cease using horses while handling the border crisis. President Joe Biden even threatened that law enforcement “would pay” for doing their job.
Horses are advantageous in patrolling the border due to their stature and ability to traverse rough, uneven terrain, and due to the animals’ natural gifts: their herding instinct for guiding and corralling illegal immigrants, and their heightened sense of sight and hearing for scoping out illegal immigrants.
Harris was designated to handle the border by Biden at the outbreak of his border crisis earlier this year.
Members of the Biden Administration are also displeased with the Haiti mix to the border crisis – but for different reasons, apparently. Biden’s Special Envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned on Wednesday. He claimed that the Biden Administration had ignored or dismissed his recommendations for handling the issues in Haiti that led to the border crisis. Foote said that the forced deportation of thousands of Haitians wasn’t proper protocol, and that the Haitians would suffer or die because of it.
Foote indicated that the Biden Administration’s forthcoming decision to install their pick of leadership for the Haitians would only result in failure again.
“[W]hat our Haitian friends really want, and need, is the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favored candidates but with genuine support for that course. I do not believe that Haiti can enjoy stability until her citizens have the dignity of truly choosing their own leaders fairly and acceptably,” wrote Foote. “Last week, the U.S. and other embassies in Port-au-Prince issued another public statement of support for the unelected, de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry as interim leader of Haiti, and have continued to tout his ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society. The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner – again – is impressive. This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results. More negative impacts to Haiti will have calamitous consequences not only in Haiti, but in the U.S. and our neighbors in the hemisphere.”
By federal law, refugees are those unable or unwilling to return to their native country due to “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”
Haiti is currently facing political turmoil. In July their president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated by gunmen claiming to be U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. His murder incited more chaos in Haiti, on top of the over 90 gangs that hold much of the power in the country.
Then last month, the country was hit with an earthquake, causing 2,200 deaths, an estimated 12,000 injuries, and damaging or destroying around 12,000 homes.
Nearly 28,000 Haitians have been intercepted at the border this year.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.