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Sharpton says deportation flights of Haitian migrants should end, tours Del Rio camps

Sharpton says deportation flights of Haitian migrants should end, tours Del Rio camps
Sharpton calls situation ‘outrageous’, says Haitian migrants ‘clearly’ deserving of asylum

Civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton toured camps set up by more than 12,000 Haitian migrants near the international bride in Del Rio, Texas on Thursday where he called for the Biden administration to immediately suspend deportation efforts for the desperate migrants.

Mr Sharpton spoke at a news conference on Thursday around noon local time, explaining that he and others were in Del Rio to pray with the migrants in the camps and assess the situation after speaking with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas a day earlier.

In particular, Mr Sharpton said there needed to be “total accountability” surrounding the actions of US Customs and Border Protection agents in Del Rio, who were seen over the past several days confronting migrants on horseback, in some cases as they fled through waist-deep water. Some images and videos showed agents brandishing the reins of their horse tack in a whiplike fashion, leading to questions about whether CBP agents used the reins in that manner against mostly Black migrants.

“You can look at the weaponisation of horses alone," han sa.

Progressives have echoed similar claims on social media over the past week and condemned the use of horses, which some said evoked imagery of slave patrols from America’s racist past.

Mr Sharpton said that the Biden administration needed to act quickly and change how it was addressing the situation; DHS has begun deportation flights carrying migrants from the Del Rio camp to Haiti, and have scheduled four more flights for Tuesday.

“What is going on here is a crisis that everyone concerned with human rights or civil rights should be dealing with,” Rev Sharpton continued at the press conference. “The fact is, the deportation flights should cease immediately, and asylum should be granted to those that are certainly qualified for asylum.”

Pointing out the recent earthquake and tropical storm that have ravaged the island nation of Haiti – as well as the assassination of its president – Mr Sharpton said “I don’t know how you could more qualify for asylum than that”.

The White House said on Thursday that the use of horses among border agents has been suspended at Del Rio, an announcement echoed by DHS. The White House has made no indication that President Joe Biden plans to reverse course and allow any of the migrants to pursue asylum in the US before deportation.

To be granted asylum in the US, one must reach the US border and apply at a port of entry, or be already inside the US when applying. The US began expelling all immigrants who arrived at the US-Mexico border to apply for asylum last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, though the Biden administration reversed much of the Trump administration’s restrictions on US asylum policy.