MIAMI (WSVN) - One of two South Florida priests who traveled to the U.S. border with Mexico in Texas to meet predominantly Haitian migrants shared his account of his trip, as some local clergy called on the Biden administration to stop the deportations.
Father Reginald Jean-Mary from Notre Dame d’Haiti Parish in Miami spent the last two days at the Southern border with another local priest, as they connected with migrants and offered hope.
“If you listen to them, to those deportees in Haiti, to those that we have met at the border, it was a shock for them, the way that they treated them in the greatest land of the world: land of America,” said Jean-Mary.
The border in Del Rio, Texas, on Sunday looked considerably different than it did just one week ago. The thousands of mostly Haitian nationals that had gathered are now gone.
In South Florida, support for the migrants took shape at Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church in Miami Gardens during a service on Sunday.
“We are calling on the Biden administration to immediately stop the deportation of Haitian migrants,” said the Rev. Dr. Keny Felix.
Recently surfaced images of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping toward and intimidating the migrants have led to a rising chorus calling for change.
“The time has come for us to send a message to this administration, whom we know is against discrimination in all its aspects,” said the Rev. David Eugene with the Haitian Evangelical Baptist Church.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 30,000 migrants passed through the camp in just the last two weeks. More than 12,000 were released into the U.S. with a pending court date.
Officials said another 5,000 are in DHS custody waiting to have their cases processed. The rest were deported to Haiti or voluntarily returned to Mexico under a public health rule due to COVID-19.
“This is a public health imperative: to protect migrants themselves, local communities, our personnel and the American public,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Republicans, meanwhile, said the situation makes the White House look weak on immigration, and they blamed the Biden administration for the recent surges.
“They have sent a message and a signal to the entire world, that they are not going to secure the border, they’re going to allow them across,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
The Biden administration, meanwhile, has pinned the blame on a bleak economic situation in Central and South America, as well as outdated immigration laws. The last major bipartisan attempt at reform failed in 2013.
“I think we meet the challenges, but we are working in a completely broken system,” said Mayorkas. “I’ve never heard anyone say that the laws in immigration are well-structured.”
Officials are currently tracking another migrant caravan that just crossed into Southern Mexico. The group is about 20,000 strong and could arrive anywhere along the U.S.-Mexico border within the next month.
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