Posted on September 22, 2021

Haitian Deportees Bite ICE Agents and Assault Pilots on Deportation Flights

Keith Griffith and Rachel Sharp, Daily Mail, September 22, 2021

Haitian immigrants deported back to the Caribbean nation have bit Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and assaulted pilots on deportation flights back to Port-au-Prince, according to new reports.

In one incident on Monday at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, two Haitian migrants left their seats as the plane taxied to the runway and attacked ICE agents by biting them, forcing takeoff to be delayed, according to the Washington Examiner.

Meanwhile in a another incident, three ICE officers also suffered non-life-threatening injuries during an assault on Tuesday at the Port-au-Prince airport, when a group from a plan carrying single adult men stormed another recently arrived flight carrying deported families, according to NBC News.

The Haitian men also assaulted the pilots of that plane, who work for a government contractor licensed to fly deportation flights, and demanded to be taken back to the US, a source familiar with internal reports told the outlet.

In Monday’s incident in Texas, federal assault charges will be brought against the migrants accused of biting the ICE officers.

It was not immediately clear if any charges were pending in Tuesday’s incidents in Port-au-Prince.


Nearly 10,000 migrants, mainly Haitian, remain in worsening conditions in an impromptu camp that sprang up under a bridge spanning the Rio Grande from the Texas town Del Rio to Mexico’s Ciudad Acuna.

In recent days, U.S. authorities have removed at least 4,000 people from the site for processing in detention centers. Some 1,000 Haitians have been deported to their homeland on flights to Haiti, with repatriations set to continue on a regular basis, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said.

Returnees reacted angrily as they stepped off flights at Port-au-Prince airport on Tuesday after spending thousands of dollars on arduous voyages attempting to reach the United States, after learning that the Biden administration had stopped deporting Haitians.

In one incident, a group of men in white T-shirts rushed back toward the plane after they disembarked in Port-au-Prince, with one man attempting to get back on board, witnesses told Reuters.

The migrants broke into a restricted area of the airport as they attempted to recover passports and personal belongings, and ground staff closed the door of the plane before the man could scale the steps back into the cabin.

Tempers ran high, exacerbated by news the Haitian government had accepted the deportations.

‘I am angry at the government. We were told in prison that the Haitian government had signed to send us back to Haiti. They are all bad people, these authorities,’ said Yranese Melidor, 45, who arrived on an earlier flight.

Meanwhile, thousands of Haitian migrants are being freed into the US on a ‘very, very large scale’ rather than being flown out on deportation flights as the Biden administration promised, according to officials.

Two US officials with knowledge of the situation in Del Rio – where a peak of around 14,600 mostly Haitian migrants were camped out under a bridge at the weekend after crossing into the US from Mexico – said thousands have been released into the US with notices to appear at an immigration court in 60 days’ time under the so-called ‘catch and release’ scheme.

Others have been sent on buses and planes to other parts of the US to be processed by Border Patrol agents there, they said.

The exact number released is unclear, with Texas Governor Greg Abbott saying that 8,600 migrants were still in Del Rio on Tuesday afternoon.

Deportation flights began on Sunday, and by Wednesday morning, over 1,000 migrants had been flown back to Haiti, a source with knowledge of the matter told

Three flights deported 327 Haitian nationals from Del Rio back to the capital of Port-au-Prince Sunday, two flights deported 233 Monday and 523 were flown out on four flights Tuesday, the official said.

In total, 1083 migrants have been deported in the last three days, suggesting up to 5,000 may have been released into the United States.

Another seven deportation flights are expected to expel further Haitian migrants Wednesday.

This purported reality on the ground is drastically at odds with the public statements the Biden administration has made in recent days in an effort to get a handle on the ever-increasing migrant crisis at the US’s southern border.

The official line is that Haitians are being expelled from the US back to the crisis-stricken Caribbean nation under a Donald Trump-era rule.

Under Title 42, migrants can be repatriated to their home nations without the possibility of requesting asylum due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas insisted Monday that migrants entering the US illegally will be sent back to their home countries.

‘If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned, your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life,’ he said at a press conference.

Mayorkas then went one step further Tuesday, insisting that the border is now ‘closed’ to migrants.

Many of the thousands of migrants who have gathered in Del Rio in recent days fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and have been living in South American countries including Brazil and Chile. But since these nations have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, many Haitians have traveled up through South America and Mexico to seek asylum in the US.

One US official, with direct knowledge of operations who was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity, told Associated Press thousands of Haitians had been freed on a ‘very, very large scale’ in recent days.

Many have been released with notices to appear at an immigration office within 60 days, an outcome that requires less processing time from Border Patrol agents than ordering an appearance in immigration court and points to the speed at which authorities are moving, the official said.

The Homeland Security Department has been busing Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso, Laredo and Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border, and this week added flights to Tucson, Arizona, the official said.

They are then processed by the Border Patrol at those locations.

A second US official, also with direct knowledge and speaking on the condition of anonymity, said large numbers of Haitians were being processed under immigration laws and not being placed on expulsion flights to Haiti that started Sunday.

The official couldn’t be more specific about how many.

US authorities scrambled in recent days for buses to Tucson but resorted to flights when they couldn’t find enough transportation contractors, both officials said.

Coast Guard planes also took Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso.

A third US official not authorized to discuss operations said there were seven daily flights to Haiti planned starting Wednesday.

Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, head of Haiti’s national migration office, said last week authorities expected that 14,000 Haitians will be deported from the US over the next three weeks.

Delva warned that Haiti cannot handle thousands of homeless deportees arriving into the country.

The criteria for deciding who is flown to Haiti and who is released in the US was unclear.

But two US officials said single adults were the priority for expulsion flights.

The Homeland Security Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday night.

President Joe Biden has come under fire from both sides of the political aisle over the situation in Del Rio.

In May, the Biden administration’s DHS designated Haiti for temporary protected status (TPS) as the nation was in the grips of ‘human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Under TPS, foreign nationals cannot be deported back to countries hit by natural or manmade disasters, enabling Haitians to live in the US without legal status to qualify for provisional residency.

Then, in August – following the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise in July and the earthquake which killed more than 2,000 people the next month – extended and expanded the TPS further.

A statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s website stipulates that the TPS rule only applies to Haitians already in the United States when the announcement was made in May, and that Haitians who subsequently tried to travel to the US would not be allowed to benefit from the new rule.

It is unclear how the United States is able to differentiate between Haitians who illegally entered the country before and after the TPS proclamation was made.

Meanwhile, US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended his department Wednesday after images showing horse-mounted immigration officers chasing down Haitian migrants on the border with Mexico went viral.

The shocking photos showed border patrol riders appearing to swing their mounts’ long reins like whips to threaten migrants and push them back to the Rio Grande river that marks the border.

The images ‘do not reflect who we are as a country, nor do they reflect who the United States Customs and Border Protection is,’ Mayorkas told the House Homeland Security Committee.

‘I have ordered an investigation to be conducted of the events that are captured in those images,’ he said.

‘The facts will drive the actions that we take, we ourselves will pull no punches,’ he said, promising a result ‘In days and not weeks.’

Democrats, meanwhile, are slamming Biden after he resumed deportation flights Sunday, sending people back to a nation that is unable to take them.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded the Biden administration stop the flights and cease using Title 42 on the Senate floor Tuesday saying it defies ‘common decency’.

Last Thursday, a federal judge blocked the Biden administration from using Title 42 to expel migrant families but the order takes 14 days to take effect and the administration appealed the ruling the next day.