A temporary camp of more than 9,000 migrants sheltering under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas has become the latest symbol of the burgeoning humanitarian crisis at the border.
During a summer in which unauthorized border crossings have increased to a level “not seen in more than two decades,” the New York Times reports the “temporary camp has grown with staggering speed in recent days, from just a few hundred people earlier in the week.” Now, thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, who have crossed but must wait for processing, endure triple-digit temperatures, “no running water,” and access to only 22 portable toilets.
The surge in migration from Haiti comes as the Caribbean country recovers from a devastating earthquake and political turmoil following the assassination of its president. Earlier this week, a Haitian prosecutor said the country’s prime minister should be charged in connection with the crime.
Republicans have already seized on the crisis as an example of Biden’s poor leadership. “The Biden Administration is in complete disarray and is handling the border crisis as badly as the evacuation from Afghanistan,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a Thursday statement. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), appearing with Sean Hannity on Fox News the same day, claimed the crisis was because of lax policies. “If you’re from Haiti, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have said we have open borders, come to Del Rio and they will let you in,” Cruz said.
In fact, the Biden administration has already started flying migrants back to Haiti, a policy condemned by progressive Democrats, with Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) tellling the Hill it is “cruel and callous” to carry out the deportations “with Haiti in the midst of its worst political, public health and economic crises yet.” Guerline Jozef, co-founder of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a coalition of community nonprofits, said the group’s members were in “utter disbelief” at Biden’s policy.
That reality has not stopped Republican leaders from using the crisis to raise the specter of the “Great Replacement,” a racist conspiracy positing a deliberate scheme for nonwhite people to replace white people. On Thursday, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Fox News‘ Laura Ingraham that “even if” new migrants “don’t become citizens,” in 18 years “every one of them has two or three children, you’re talking about millions and millions and millions of new voters, and they will thank the Democrats and Biden for bringing them here.”