The most important leadership skill for any administration is to be frank, direct and purposeful — to say what they mean and mean what they say.

In its response to the crisis of Haitian migrants at the border, the Biden administration has misled the American people. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has talked tough, suggesting the border with Mexico is closed and that the United States would deport Haitian migrants back to the island nation.

Instead, the administration also was quietly releasing thousands with a summons back to a court in 60 days, information that came to light through reporters on the ground in Del Rio.

There is no other way to put it. The administration is playing both sides against the middle and sending jumbled messages to the American people, to Mexico and Central American governments and mostly to desperate migrants seeking refuge in the United States.

What the Biden administration fails to admit is that the surge in Del Rio is the result of an embarrassing diplomatic failure. In April, the Biden administration struck an agreement with Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras to temporarily deploy troops to increase border security and prevent migrants from reaching the U.S. border.

Then in June, the Biden administration formally ended the Trump-era policy of returning asylum-seekers to Mexico until their court dates in the United States, according to a memo from Mayorkas.

Earlier this month, however, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador indicated he wanted Biden to address the root causes of migration, something we thought Vice President Kamala Harris had been tasked to do, and offer temporary work visas to Central Americans.

The surge of Haitians began a few days later, and this week, López Obrador said Mexico will continue to help the United States slow illegal immigration. “We have tried to keep migrants in shelters, above all to protect minors, women,” López Obrador said. “But this can’t go on forever; we have to get to the bottom of the issue and that means investing in the development of poor countries.”

The U.S. policy of sending Haitians to Haiti has caused some to turn around and others to stay in Mexico or return to Central or South America, where many had lived since an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010.

A policy of contain and detain is not a solution. Most asylum-seekers aren’t Mexican, and Mexico is under no legal obligation to accept non-Mexican asylum-seekers back across the border to wait for hearings on their claims. As López Obrador says, “You can’t open the border and let everyone freely cross.”

Yes, that is true, and it applies to Mexico’s northern and southern borders, too.

The Biden administration continues to send mixed messages to migrants, neighboring countries and the American people. There will be other surges of distressed migrants willing to attempt the hazardous journey from the Northern Triangle and beyond across México to the United States. Del Rio was the entry point this time. But the Rio Grande Valley remains a major crossing point, too.

Slowing the surge of migrants depends on several factors. Congress and the administration must be willing to secure the border and provide swifter processing of asylum claims. And this effort also requires regional cooperation to rebuild economies and suppress criminal cartels to reduce the incentive for families and individuals to migrate northward.

Vice President Harris has expressed concerns about the treatment of Haitian migrants by border patrol agents on horses, a tone echoed in the resignation letter of Daniel Foote, the Biden administration’s special envoy to Haiti, who characterized the expulsion of Haitians from Del Rio to Haiti as “inhumane.”

Any valid allegations of mistreatment deserve investigation, but we also urge the president and vice president to engage more productively through diplomacy. The State Department had reached out to Chile and Brazil to take Haitians who were previously residing in those countries. Long-term solutions will be tougher to achieve unless existing agreements to slow surges northward hold up.

• Dallas Morning News editorial board via The Associated Press

Recommended for you

(12) comments

Bailey Jones

[thumbup] President Obrador is exactly correct - “we have to get to the bottom of the issue and that means investing in the development of poor countries." This has always been the solution to our immigration problem.

Carlos Ponce

He said that with his hand stretched out for handouts....

Bottom of the issue - the illegals come from countries that have mismanaged their economies. Not to worry, if Biden gets his way, the United States will head in the same direction. Inflation has surpassed a 30 year high.

Don Schlessinger

How many billions have we wasted in South America "investing in the development of poor countries?" Too many and it's never worked. My solution, now that Sleepy has opened Texas borders to the world why not just use foreign aid money in America to support all the illegals. At least most of those needy people will be helped. Financing fancy cars and homes for South American, and other poor countries around the world just doesn't work. Since Biden has normalized the "Dole" for Americans not wanting to work why not add illegals to the list and forget about financing other countries.

Bailey Jones

Don, we've wasted $billions because our foreign policy with respect to South America has always been one of political expediency and exploitation, not economic development. It's funny you use the word "Dole" considering the social and political destruction that America's fruit companies have wreaked upon our southern neighbors, backed by the US military. (We call them banana republics for a reason.)

Carlos Ponce

The money we sent to help economic development wound up in the pockets of politicians and their supporters. Sounds like the United States under Biden.[whistling]

Stephanie Martin

“In June, the Biden administration formally ended the Trump-era policy of returning asylum-seekers to Mexico until their court dates…” Need I say more.

Carlos Ponce

"all failed" The wall was working. Just ask CBP and ICE. It freed them to go after visa overstays.

Charles Douglas

Ms. Martin> No mam! You said it short, good, and true!!!!!!

Jim Forsythe

No President has fixed the problem. Unless they have bipartisan support, the problem will never be fixed. Building a wall ,Operation Wetback which may have sent 1,000,000 people back, and the other programs that have been tried, all failed because because enough people were against them and it caused them to fail. If one thinks these programs did not fail, then why do we still have a problem?

How many new miles of wall was built? The reasons the wall failed, are many. Funding, if it was not a problem, money would have been in place. Rights to private land, caused many miles not to be built. Environmental regulations causes delays. Until all buy into projects like this, they will fail.

We have legal immigration which we have a problem with, and we have illegal immigration, which we have had a problem with for many years. Some may say we do not have a problem with legal immigration, but we do when people overstay their legal visas, they then become a problem that we have fail to address, in the manor needed. Also legal immigration has a problem, when we set a number that can come to the USA each year. This number changes and can cause some people to have to wait many, many years and cause some people to try and come here without the wait. Unless the people in other countries, no longer have a reason to leave their homeland, we will will continue to have a problem, in the USA.

If some think the laws we have in place are all we need, nothing will change. We need a bipartisan review of all laws and do away with the ones that are not working. If one says that can never happen, it may be true unless the people in DC put the USAs needs first, over party.

Jose' Boix

What a complicated and convoluted immigration mess. It is interesting that most of these illegal immigrants are passing through several Central American countries before crossing the Rio Grande into the USA. Imagine that Haiti is a Caribbean Island and somehow, they reach illegally to the USA. I presume that all these folks are allowed to illegally cross countries so they can reach the USA. I recall that the USA required a Visa embossed onto a valid passport and if upon arriving you were assessed not to "compliant," you were sent back (deported).

So how is it that if someone is found on US soil illegally that individual can't be deported? It seems that now that individual is sent through a judicial track currently plugged up with too many to judge and not enough judges. What a complicated web we have created!

And while a solution may be to invest to create jobs in those countries, such approach is good in theory, but impractical knowing as I know the Latin style governments and people. Easier solution to say than to do, in my humble opinion.

Let's start by enforcing the immigration laws we have had and now have. Just my thoughts.

Gary Scoggin

A few thoughts....

1. Everybody, including Biden and Mexican President Lopez Obrador are trying to have things both ways.

2. None of the Haitians showing up at the border originated in Mexico.

3. We obviously have to be more proactive in uncontrolled immigration to the US.

4. Mexico obviously has to be more proactive in uncontrolled immigration into Mexico of people heading to the US.

5. We need to overhaul our laws in order to expedite case review.

6. We need to increase the number of immigrants we let into this country. Generally, anyone that wants to come here, work, and support their families are candidates for being good Americans.

Bailey Jones

[thumbup] Gary, and I would add that we need a much more robust guest worker program. We would have a lot fewer illegal immigrants if non-citizens could come and work with the freedom to regularly return to their families without risking jail or death each trip. The difficulty and danger of sneaking into the US is one reason why non-citizens choose to stay here when they would much prefer to commute back and forth to their homes and families.

I also believe that we must open our nation up to the world's refugees. There is obviously a practical limit on how many we can take, but we are at record lows in receiving refugees. It's the greatest moral failure of the Biden administration, in my opinion.

Welcome to the discussion.

Real Names required. No pseudonyms or partial names allowed. Stand behind what you post.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.