U.S. agencies charged with managing immigration were aware that thousands of Haitians had embarked for the border in July, but internal disagreements over whether to escalate deportations as well as intelligence lags left border personnel overwhelmed by the crowds that flooded into Del Rio, Texas last month.
Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis knew in July that caravans of Haitian migrants were journeying from South and Central America to attempt to gain entry into the U.S, three officials told NBC News. However, information regarding the size of the group or the progress of its movement north was not properly dispersed within DHS and other agencies to give adequate time to prepare.
The deportation process ahead of the incoming border surge was also stalled because of infighting between progressives and others at DHS, two officials told NBC. In a week’s span, about 28,000 illegal aliens were apprehended at the border, at least 12,000 of whom were released into the country despite the Biden administration’s assurances to the contrary.
The sources informed NBC that Homeland Security recognizes it committed planning errors and is working to prevent a repeat of the chaotic scene that unfolded in September for future migrations.
On September 20th, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged his department’s miscalculation with the Haitian migration: “I don’t think we expected the rapidity of the increase that occurred.”
In addition to the communication breakdown, there was gridlock within the Biden administration over whether to expedite deportations of illegal Haitian migrants already residing in the U.S. While progressives lobbied against it, saying it would be inhumane to expel Haitians to a country ravaged by political turmoil and natural disasters, others pushed for deportations to deter more people from coming.
While the Biden administration froze deportation flights to Haiti after a recent earthquake hit, it resumed them once migrants started arriving at the border in droves in September. ICE has since deported over 7,200 migrants to Haiti, but thousands more remain in the U.S., with the understanding that they will reappear for a court date in a couple of years to have their asylum cases adjudicated.
More Haitian migrants, roughly 10 to 20,000 of them, are currently camping in Colombia en route to the southern border.