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Beto blasts 'Biden administration failures' on Haitian migrant surge

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Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke took aim Friday at the Biden administration’s response to the influx of thousands of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, over the past week, saying it was "without a plan."

In an op-ed published by El Paso Matters, O’Rourke, a Democrat who is considering a run for governor in Texas, asked “why was our government so slow to respond, leaving the people of Del Rio and the Border Patrol to their own devices?”

Like many progressive members of his party, O’Rourke also took issue with Biden’s reliance on Title 42, a policy used by former President Donald Trump to expel migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. on the grounds that they represented a public heath threat, to deport thousands of Haitians this week. 

“Unfortunately, stung by the outcry and caught without a plan, the Biden administration used a cynical Trump-era policy (known as Title 42) to immediately, and without due process, repatriate Haitians back to the country they left a decade ago, one whose streets are now ruled by gangs and criminals,” O’Rourke wrote. 

O’Rourke also vented that the federal government seemed to be caught off guard by the arrival of approximately 15,000 Haitian migrants on the Texas border with Mexico. 

“None of this should have been a surprise to our government. We have diplomatic missions in each of these countries and an unrivaled global intelligence network,” O'Rourke wrote. “Immigration and undocumented border crossings have been a consistently pressing challenge for years. How could we not see this coming?”

Beto O'Rourke
Former Texas Rep. and potential gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke. (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images)

As Yahoo News reported exclusively on Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security had been monitoring the possibility that Haitian migrants would seek asylum in the U.S. in the wake of political unrest and a devastating earthquake in 2010. But multiple assessments downplayed the likelihood of a substantive surge. 

“Haiti’s tense political environment will likely have a limited impact on migration over the next three months,” stated a March 1 report written by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

O’Rourke, who from 2013 to 2019 represented a West Texas congressional district that borders Mexico and went on to mount unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the Democratic presidential nomination, told Mother Jones magazine that he was considering running to try to replace the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, next year. 

“[It’s] no secret, I’m thinking about running for governor. Front and center in my consideration is just this: what it means to live in a democracy,” O'Rourke said. 

In his op-ed on Friday, O’Rourke seemed to focus on that very theme, arguing that both Trump and Biden had failed to live up to American ideals. 

“We need America to step up and convene the countries of this hemisphere to solve the interconnected crises of failed states, climate catastrophes and the mass movement of people who — through no fault of their own — are unable to stay in their home countries,” O’Rourke wrote. 

“We need our government to dispense with cynical Trump-era policies and follow current U.S. law to ensure due process for asylum seekers. We need to hold accountable those who would treat immigrants as less than human — whether they were separated from their families and placed in cages under Trump or corralled like cattle as they brought food to their families under Biden.”

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