Vice President Joe Biden condemned members of border patrol and other federal law enforcement who mistreated Haitian migrants — all those who arrived before the Trump administration imposed a temporary ban on Haitians entering the United States. Mr. Biden made the comments Friday at an event in D.C. for the bipartisan advocacy group, CAIR-OH, organized by the National Action Network, the Florida chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
“I found out the hard way,” Mr. Biden said, eliciting laughter from those in attendance and applause from the crowd. “I was on the border at the San Ysidro port of entry. I took a cab across the border into the United States, and about five to six seconds after we got there, some of the security agents said, ‘We had no idea it was this hard to get in,’ as if they didn’t know any better. Then they started pushing people into cars. I think they’re trying to use leverage to get Haitians and others to go back. These people don’t belong in this country.”
The Trump administration has argued that migrants who crossed into the United States before the policy change are still eligible for the Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS, which gives them a temporary, temporary residency in the United States. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump called TPS “a big, fat, ugly program.”
Mr. Biden called TPS “a temporary program,” but also said the Trump administration should take responsibility for its effects on victims. He called Haitians “economic refugees” and noted that at least one man, Jean Francois Rossir, was murdered by U.S. border patrol agents in Arizona, citing Fox News as the outlet that reported this Wednesday.
“Jean Francois Rossir was a Haitian immigrant, he was left homeless and rendered penniless because of the TPS program,” Mr. Biden said. “He found himself sitting in a makeshift camp in Arizona. When he went to file a U-Visa application with the border patrol office, the agents said, ‘There’s no record of this. You’re going to have to file it yourself,’ they told him.”
There have been reports of police attacks, which Mr. Biden called “extremely disturbing.” He and other victims cannot travel because there are no legal routes to leave the country, Mr. Biden said.
“They can’t get humanitarian relief because the program has been canceled,” he said. “If the president thinks he can just order people to return to Haiti when all the people who were refugees are told that they can’t go, that’s just shameful. He doesn’t have the power to do that.”
Mr. Biden noted that TPS recipients currently number 57,000 people, but did not specify how many had been placed in the U.S. since the restriction began. He did suggest that the current restrictions were meant to end the status of TPS holders, which has been extended on various occasions throughout the years since it was first approved. Mr. Biden has long supported legislation to grant permanent resident status to TPS holders. He described it as an “act of compassion.”
“If our only aim is to deport people, that’s just insane,” he said. “I can’t believe that we’d actually be doing that.”
Read the full story on The Hill.
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