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Biden Uses Trump-Era Law to Continue Haiti Deportations

Haitians in the United States were granted special immigration status in August, so why are thousands now being deported?

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback with Haitian migrants
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback swings the reins as he tries to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19. PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: The Biden administration continues to deport Haitian migrants from Texas camp, Iran says it will return to nuclear talks “soon,” and China vows to stop overseas coal plant financing.

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Haiti Deportations Highlight Title 42’s Reach

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: The Biden administration continues to deport Haitian migrants from Texas camp, Iran says it will return to nuclear talks “soon,” and China vows to stop overseas coal plant financing.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Haiti Deportations Highlight Title 42’s Reach

The United States will continue deportation flights to Haiti today as it seeks to repatriate nearly 15,000 migrants who have crossed into U.S. territory in recent days.

Videos of federal authorities mistreating the mostly Haitian migrants at a camp in Del Rio, Texas—a town on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border—has led to fierce criticism from Democratic lawmakers and adds to a warning from the head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that the deportations may violate international law.

The Biden administration appears to be betting on deterrence, hoping its quick action will stop more migrants from making the dangerous and expensive journey. The move could also be seen as hypocritical; just over seven weeks ago, on Aug. 3, the Biden administration extended protected status to Haitian migrants in the United States, in light of what the Department of Homeland Security called a “deteriorating political crisis, violence, and a staggering increase in human rights abuses” in their home country.

The rise of Title 42. The legal authority under which President Joe Biden has carried out the expulsions has also been called into question. Title 42, a Trump-era authorization implemented at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic to expel asylum-seekers immediately on the grounds that they could spread disease, has been maintained by the Biden administration.

Last week, a federal judge blocked the Biden administration from enforcing the policy, a decision that is now being appealed by the U.S. government.

Amid a surge of migrants crossing into the United States this year, Title 42 has been applied regularly; figures from U.S. customs authorities show roughly 700,000 expulsions took place under the Biden administration to date, nearly twice the amount that took place under President Donald Trump.

A shut door. The rejection of migrants seeking asylum in safe countries is not just an American problem; the European Union has paid Turkey to take Europe-bound migrants on its behalf, while the United Kingdom is considering copying Australia’s policy, which involves processing asylum-seekers in a third country.

Climate concerns. The dilution of the right to asylum comes as millions of people are expected to become refugees due to the extreme effects of climate change in the coming decades. UNHCR estimates that 20 million people are already forced to leave their homes annually because of climate change, although most remain within their own countries.

As part of a review of U.S. refugee policy, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has been tasked with presenting “options for protection and resettlement of individuals displaced directly or indirectly from climate change” by October.

Even as it pursues a policy of deterrence at its borders, the Biden administration is taking steps to increase the number of refugees accepted into the country. Starting Oct. 1, the annual cap on U.S. refugee admissions will increase to 125,000 from the historic low of 15,000 set during the Trump administration.


What We’re Following Today

The global vaccine summit. Biden convenes world leaders for a global vaccine summit today on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly as he pushes for countries to do more to address a global shortfall that has seen a massive vaccine gap open up between rich and poor countries. Biden is expected this week to announce a purchase of 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to donate overseas in order to address the divide. The move comes on the heels of a U.S. purchase of 500 million vaccine doses in June for the COVAX initiative.

For an in-depth look at what today’s U.N. General Assembly will bring and what to watch for, check out U.N. Brief, the pop-up newsletter from FP reporters Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer.

Iran talks. Hopes for a renewed Iran nuclear deal were boosted on Tuesday after an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that talks in Vienna would resume “soon” sometime “over the next few weeks,” in remarks reported by Iranian news agency IRNA.

The announcement comes as Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with his counterparts from Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia during this week’s U.N. General Assembly. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in his address to the assembly on Tuesday, decried U.S. sanctions as Washington’s “new way of war,” but he said talks would be valuable if they led to sanctions removal.

The Taliban government’s new faces. The Taliban announced new appointments to their interim government on Tuesday in a bid to project a more inclusive image after criticism over their level of diversity. The appointees, all men and in lower-level positions, represent a departure from the primarily Pashtun government established earlier this month, with one member of Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazara community named as a deputy health minister.

The Taliban also named Suhail Shaheen, a prominent spokesman, as their new U.N. representative, although it’s unlikely the United Nations will allow him to address the General Assembly instead of sitting Ambassador Ghulam Isaczai. Afghanistan’s representative is scheduled to deliver an address on Sept. 27.


Keep an Eye On

China’s coal-powered future. China will end its financing of new coal power plants overseas, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Tuesday. In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Xi said China would instead “step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy.” Although it is welcome news for the planet, it is tempered by China’s own domestic plans, which involve dozens of new coal plants in the coming years as it heads toward a goal of peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

Europe’s defense. EU leaders will discuss plans for a more coordinated defense posture in an upcoming summit in October, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic told reporters on Tuesday. “I think that after Kabul, after AUKUS, this was, I would say, the natural conclusion, that we need to focus more on the strategic autonomy,” Sefcovic said, referring to the recent trilateral defense pact among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Biden will attempt to smooth over rocky relations with France in the wake of the AUKUS deal by speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron over the phone in the coming days, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the White House is still working on scheduling the call.

Germany’s election. As Germany votes on Sunday, the latest national poll points to a tight election and a new coalition government. The Social Democrats maintain their lead with 25 percent support, while the Christian Democrats gained a point from last week, reaching 22 percent support. Both the Social Democrats and Green Party have ruled out a coalition with the Christian Democrats, although that pledge is likely to be tested once final results are known. One promise that is more likely to be kept is one made by all leading parties to reject any coalition with the far-right Alternative for Germany.


Odds and Ends

Two men in New Zealand have been charged with breaking strict COVID-19 lockdown protocols after police found a large cache of KFC chicken stashed in the trunk of the car the two were traveling in. The men are also suspected of gang membership after police seized $70,000 in cash from the pair.

Under Auckland’s level 4 lockdown restrictions, restaurants in the city remain closed for dining in or delivery orders, and only essential movements outside the home are allowed. Police say the men made the chicken run as part of a journey to Hamilton, 75 miles to the south, which is currently under a less severe level 2 lockdown.

The men are not the only intrepid New Zealanders to break the rules in order to get a fast-food fix. Police charged a 20-year-old Auckland man last week after he posted a TikTok video leaving Auckland in search of McDonald’s. As of today, Auckland moves into level 3, meaning food delivery services are back up and running.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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