“It’s a lot that’s going on and we need to help,” Merilan said, adding that one of the biggest needs is funding for transportation. “The organization is spending a lot of money.”
Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S., Bocchit Edmond, said assisting those migrants who have been released and now have 60 days to appear either before an immigration judge or at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility is a top priority.
“My concern is finding a place where we can accommodate those people who do not have family here and seeing how lawyers can assist them and make sure the process is being followed,” said Edmond, who is flying out to Texas Saturday. “We do hope since we are working with some grassroots organizations, like the Haitian Bridge Alliance and Houston Haitian United, to see how best they can help.”
One way in which local Haitian consulates are planning to assist is to help migrants replace their Haitian passports. Many migrants either don’t travel with the document or dump it along the 7,000-mile trek through the jungles of South America to the U.S. -Mexico border in order to avoid deportation to Haiti along the route.
The surge in Haitian migrants at the Del Rio port of entry compounded an already existing border crisis, and heightened criticism of the Biden administration’s response and use of Title 42.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the situation at the border was the result of a broken U.S. immigration system and pushed back on criticism from Republicans, who have used it to hammer the president.
“I can assure you the president is well aware what the challenges are in our broken immigration system, something he watches closely over the last few years,” she said.
Immigration and civil-rights activists have called for an end to the deportations, and the use of Title 42, which they say deny Haitian asylum seekers the right to seek protection in the United States. Though a federal judge recently ruled that the Biden administration cannot continue to use the law, which was first invoked by the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, he delayed his order for 14 days, giving the administration time to clear out the camp.
Mayorkas continued to defend DHS’s use of Title 42, saying Friday that it’s not an immigration policy. “It is important to note that Title 42 is applicable and has been applicable to all irregular migration during this pandemic,” the secretary said.
There have been at least 21 repatriation flights to Haiti as of Friday. Those who have not been deported have been placed in immigration removal proceedings. Despite promising to send some migrants back to Chile or Brazil where they lived and where some have legal residency, it appears that all have been returned to Haiti.