SAN DIEGO – Civil rights advocates are calling on federal, state and local leaders in San Diego to take a stand against the treatment of Haitian migrants at the Texas border.
Video and photos of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics on migrants along the Rio Grande at the southern border drew swift condemnation this week. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have criticized Biden with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying the images of how migrants were treated “turn your stomach” while GOP leaders say Biden hasn’t done enough to deal with a so-called “crisis” at the border.
In a virtual news conference Tuesday, Shane Harris, president of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, called the actions of the Biden administration “despicable” and urged the president to “take action now.”
“They are despicable,” Harris said, “and they take us back somewhere to 1700.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, tasked by the Biden administration with addressing the root causes of migration to the U.S., said she was “deeply troubled” by the images and planned to speak to Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas about it.
The Associated Press reviewed photos and video of the incident, reporting there was no sign mounted agents were carrying whips or using their reins as such when confronting the migrants. The agents maneuvered their horses to forcibly block and move the migrants. In at least one instance, they were heard taunting the migrants, according to the AP.
Shane Harris suggested several courses of action he’d like to see from the administration, including calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to halt deportations of Haitians and for the Border Patrol agents captured on video to be fired and for their actions to be investigated.
He added that he would like the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution welcoming Haitian migrants to the community.
“Haitian migrants – many of them – have come over our county border,” Harris said. “It is significantly important that we, as a border region, send a swift message to the Department of Homeland Security that these actions will not be tolerated in San Diego County.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.