VP Kamala Harris said she was “outraged” by images of officers on horseback chasing Haitian refugees at the border.
While sidestepping direct questions about deportation policies, Harris compared the images to “times of slavery.”
The Biden administration is still deporting thousands of Haitians, many of whom want asylum in the US.
Vice President Kamala Harris admonished border patrol officers who in images appeared to whip Haitian refugees at the Texas border, calling the treatment “deeply troubling” and evocative of “some of the worst moments of our history.”
Images circulated last week of Haitian refugees attempting to gain asylum by crossing the border in Del Rio, Texas as Department of Homeland Security agents charged at them on horseback. In one instance, a US Border Patrol officer yelled “this is why your country’s shit” at immigrants.
Harris called the images “horrible and deeply troubling,” adding that she was “outraged” by them.
“Human beings should not be treated that way, 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,” Harris said on ABC’s The View on Friday.
The Biden administration is continuing to deport thousands of asylum-seeking Haitians after a year marked by a deadly earthquake, the assassination of the country’s president and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harris sidestepped a question from ABC’s Sara Haines about whether the Biden administration would halt deportations and allow refugees to apply for asylum.
The US started deporting some of the 12,000 immigrants camped along a bridge at the border last week.
“I feel very strongly and the president feels very strongly that we’ve got to do more. There’s no question. The United States is a member of the Western Hemisphere. Haiti is our neighbor in that regard,” Harris said, adding that the country is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and the assassination of the Haitian president.
Harris said the administration granted Temporary Protected Status to over 150,000 Haitian immigrants in May 2021. The designation protects immigrants already living in the US. Thousands of Haitians have since attempted to cross the US-Mexico border even though they do not qualify for TPS.
This week, the Biden administration resumed deportations under Title 42, a Trump-era public health policy used to deport migrants and deny them the ability to apply for asylum. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said on Friday that the Haitian migrants had been cleared from the area in Del Rio, NBC News reported. Of the 15,000 migrants that were at the border, about 2,000 were flown back to Haiti and 12,400 others remain in the US awaiting their asylum cases, Mayorkas said.
“Today, we have no migrants remaining in the camp under the International Bridge,” Mayorkas said. “Migrants continue to be expelled and under the CDC’s Title 42 authority. Title 42 is a public health authority and not an immigration policy, and it is important to note that Title 42 is applicable, and has been applicable, to all irregular migration.”
Top Democrats have criticized the Biden administration, comparing President Joe Biden to his predecessor, who enacted the law at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The Biden administration has defended the law and is actively using it to address the current border crisis.
In June, Harris warned Guatemalan immigrants not to migrate to the US.
“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come,” Harris said.
This story has been updated.
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