Dozens of migrants in the US, many of them Haitians, are fainting on a bridge in the sweltering Texas heat, where some 15,000 gathered over the past week. Women and children suffering from diarrhea and other viral diseases have become ill. And US officials are pledging to investigate after video circulated of border agents chasing migrants with horses.
President Joe Biden came into office pledging a more humane approach to the country’s borders.
But the sudden arrival of large numbers of people in Del Rio, a small border town in Texas, has cast post-Trump America in an ugly light, and provided new fodder for Mr. Biden’s critics.
“Failure to enforce laws that exist in the United States leads to chaos. And chaos leads to inhumanity,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday.
He spoke a short walk from the bridge over the Rio Grande, where 8,600 migrants remained, despite efforts by federal officials to issue provisional papers to some – and thousands of others using a public health order to send them back to other countries. placed on the plane for Which gives no chance to those migrants to apply for asylum.
The camp’s tenacity, and efforts to protect it from further swelling, have made it a particularly important symbol of the harsh edges of American policy toward migrants.
“It’s essentially a refugee camp that has been set up here,” said Nate Mook, chief executive of Worldwide Kitchen, which has been brought in to feed the migrants.
“We have seen many people fainting because of the heat,” he said. On Monday, the temperature in the sun crossed 40 degree Celsius. “It was so hot, dozens of people were pouring out,” Mr Mook said. Migrants have built temporary tents out of sugarcane and consumed water provided by federal agencies, rushing to feed those gathered on the bridge and provide medical treatment to those in need.
Mook’s organization has been part of that response, buying large quantities of food from local restaurants – most of it tacos – and providing diapers and baby food, while they wait for kitchen equipment to be set up to provide other types of food. Were were That device should be in service by Wednesday, he said.
“Everyone is working non-stop in the heat,” he said, but “getting just enough food is a daunting endeavor.” Elsewhere, medical tents have provided intravenous fluids to severely dehydrated migrants.
But those efforts have been overshadowed by anger at other elements of the response to the arrival of so many migrants – in particular, efforts to keep them out.
Images of a Border Patrol chasing migrants – and grabbing one by the shirt – inspired widespread anger, including from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyerkas, who said Tuesday after downplaying what had happened That he was “horrified” by what he had seen.
In images captured by several news organisations, a Border Patrol agent whips a long rope as he spins his horse to stop the advance of migrants through river waters. The video does not show the cord – which officials called a long bridle but what the right groups described as a lariat – striking migrants. But a photo of the incident shows the agent, who is white, leaning out of his saddle with a menacing look as he clutches the shirt of a migrant, who is black, barefoot and filled with Styrofoam boxes. Carries several bags. Can be used for food.
Photographer Paul Ratze told NPR, “I thought Haitians were quite intimidated, as their image became a focal point in the debate about how the US would treat those who attempted to enter a country made by immigrants illegally.” Is.
Democratic congressional representative from Texas Veronica Escobar called it “absolutely unacceptable”, writing on Twitter: “No matter how challenging the situation in Del Rio, nothing justifies violence against migrants seeking asylum in our country. holds.”
In another image drawn by Mr Ratje, a mounted Border Patrol agent bares his teeth as he advances towards a migrant who stumbles backwards into the water. A separate video captured audio of an agent labeling an expatriate’s country of origin with a derogatory term.
US Customs and Border Protection said its office would investigate amid an uproar at the highest level of the country’s administration.
Vice President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday, “What I saw showed people who were treating humans on horseback the way they were horrible.” “And I fully support what’s happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into what’s going on out there. But human beings should never be treated like that. And I’m very upset by that.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyercas initially described what happened as common practice, saying, “To ensure control over the horse, the long rein is used.”
The Border Patrol has used agents on horses since its inception in 1924, and working near a river is “a difficult situation”, Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz added at the time. “Trying to keep control of those horses so we don’t get into a situation where we injure a migrant because they’re trying to make that treacherous trek of river that’s probably more important than anything “
On Tuesday, however, Mr Meyerkas issued a strong condemnation, accompanied by criticism of how migrants were treated. “Misconduct or mistreatment of any migrant is unacceptable,” he told CNN. “The pictures I’ve seen have bothered me a lot.”
However, human rights groups demanded more. The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called the treatment of migrants in the state one of the worst chapters in the country’s history.
“The agents’ conduct – and the agency’s immediate response to the situation – is consistent with decades of systemic racism against black immigrants,” the ACLU wrote in a public demand. It called on the agency to immediately remove cavalry units, discipline agents from the area, and to make it clear that “Larias, whips, or any other rope should not be used as a weapon by agents under any circumstances.”
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