The United Nations’ top refugee official on Tuesday said the United States' expulsions of Haitian migrants who are camped out under a bridge in Texas may violate international law.
Filippo Grandi, the U.N.'s high commissioner for refugees, encouraged the U.S. to scale back its Title 42 health-related restrictions that were enacted in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that such regulations “deny most people arriving at the southwest U.S. land border any opportunity to request asylum.”
“The summary, mass expulsions of individuals currently underway under the Title 42 authority, without screening for protection needs, is inconsistent with international norms and may constitute refoulement,” Grandi said, according to Reuters.
The U.S. started expelling Haitian migrants from the southern border in Texas last weekend. More than 10,000 migrants who are looking to seek asylum are camped out under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, which spans the U.S. and Mexico border.
Several hundred people have been removed since Sunday and sent to Haiti, according to Reuters, and thousands of others have been transferred into U.S. detention for processing.
Photos and videos have since circulated of border agents on horseback chasing down and reining in migrants, which has sparked national attention on the developing situation.
The White House is now receiving pushback from Democrats and other allies against the removal of migrants, urging the administration to halt the expulsions.
Grandi expressed shock at the images circulating from Texas, noting the “deplorable conditions” under the bridge, according to Reuters.
The Biden administration announced on Monday that it will raise the refugee admission cap to 125,000 in fiscal 2022, a goal that he set on the campaign trail.
Since that announcement, the White House has been forced to defend its handling of the Haitian migrants.