Beto O’Rourke has slammed Joe Biden for his handling of the migrant crisis, comparing the current President to Donald Trump in his decision to deport thousands of Haitian asylum seekers from the southern border.
O’Rourke – who once described Biden as ‘kind, caring, and the antithesis of Trump’ – made the comparison in a scathing op-ed published in El Paso Matters on Friday, claiming the Commander-in-chief’s new border policies were ‘antithetical to our values and our common humanity’.
Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Haitian migrants arrived at the southern border after Biden cancelled deportation flights to the country. The influx caused chaos in the border town of Del Rio, Texas, and prompted the President to backflip and resume the repatriation flights.
The move was intended to show Biden taking a more hardline approach on immigration, but has sparked fierce backlash among left-wing politicians and pundits, including O’Rourke.
‘Stung by the outcry and caught without a plan, the Biden administration used a cynical Trump-era policy (known as Title 42) to immediately, and without due process, repatriate Haitians back to the country,’ he explained.
‘We need to hold accountable those who would treat immigrants as less than human — whether they were separated from their families and placed in cages under Trump or corralled like cattle as they brought food to their families under Biden’.
O’Rourke also addressed recent images of Border Patrol agents purportedly ‘whipping’ Haitian migrants as they tried to enter the United States. That photos only added to the outrage, with some claiming Biden’s border policies are no more humane than Trump’s.
O’Rourke wrote that the images of the migrants ‘corralled and charged by mounted Patrolmen like they were animals’ ‘shocked the world’ and placed the blame squarely at Biden’s feet.
‘Once the Haitians arrived, why was our government so slow to respond, leaving the people of Del Rio and the Border Patrol to their own devices? The disregard for border communities, and the over reliance on already stressed federal law enforcement, produced conditions that ultimately led to the unforgettable and unforgivable scene of mounted officers charging into the mass of unarmed immigrants,’ he blasted.
The op-ed marked a dramatic shift in O’Rourke’s attitudes towards Biden.
The Texan last year publicly cooed over Biden and pleaded with his constituents to vote for him on the campaign trail.
It’s unclear how Biden will react to O’Rourke’s scathing piece of writing, given that he similarly gushed over the young politician.
He last year tapped O’Rourke to take charged of the gun control issue in the US.
Meanwhile on Friday, Biden attempted to grovel after the images were released, vowing that the Border Patrol agents in the photos would be punished.
‘It’s outrageous, I promise you, those people will pay,’ he said Friday.
Biden added: ‘Of course, I take responsibility. I’m president but it was horrible to see what you saw… There will be consequences. It’s an embarrassment, beyond an embarrassment. It’s dangerous. It’s wrong, it sends the wrong message around the world, sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are’.,
However, his comments came on the same day that the photographer who took controversial photos claimed that they have been dramatically misinterpreted.
‘I’ve never seen them whip anyone,’ photographer Paul Ratje told KTSM-TV of the Border Patrol agents. The still images actually depict the mounted agents swinging the long reins of their horses, not holding whips.
‘He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture,’ said Ratje, who shot the photos from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande river.
Also on Friday, Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admitted close to 30,000 Haitians have arrived in the US in recent weeks.
He revealed that 2,000 have been expelled on 17 flights, 8,000 have returned to Haiti voluntarily, 12,4000 are having their cases heard and 5,000 being processed
That leaves 2,600 missing. Officials have said some have returned to Mexico.
Meanwhile, the BBC reported nearly 19,000 mostly Haitian migrants are heading towards the US. They are in Colombia waiting to cross the border to Panama, Colombian officials say.
The border crisis in one of several issues Biden is battling. His poll numbers have also plummeted amid the ongoing Covid pandemic, rising inflation and America’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.
O’Rourke isn’t the only prominent liberal to hit out at Biden in recent days.
The New Yorker published a piece Friday describing the Biden presidency as a ‘haze of uncertainty’ and a ‘jumble of aspirations’ that are far from what is politically possible to achieve.
‘The Biden Presidency, on both the foreign and domestic fronts, remains a jumble of aspirations—and retains a haze of uncertainty about how to achieve them,’ Susan Glasser writes. ‘Much of his political problem, it seems to me, is a vast gap between his articulated goals and what is politically possible.’
The New York Times published two pieces on Wednesday comparing Biden to former President Donald Trump despite the former building his administration on the promise he would be different than his controversial Republican predecessor.
The pieces cite Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal and the ongoing border crisis, pointing out his falling back on policies and decisions even he himself maligned while Trump was in office.
An article titled ‘Biden Pushes Deterrent Border Policy After Promising ‘Humane’ Approach,’ begins by reflecting on scenes that have surfaced this week of border agents on horseback forcefully rounding up and charging at migrants trying to cross the chest-deep waters of the Rio Grande.
‘The images could have come straight from former President Donald J. Trump’s immigration playbook,’ the news story notes.
It comes a day after the Washington Post’s White House bureau chief slammed the president for shutting down questions from American reporters during the president’s meeting Tuesday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The Times’s border story published on Wednesday points out that the Biden administration promised a more ‘humane’ approach to tackle immigration, but is ramping up its use of a Trump-era COVID rule to expel asylum-seeking migrants on the spot – specifically, to clear some 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants out from an encampment under the Del Rio bridge in Texas.
‘The deportations are a stark example of how Mr. Biden… is deploying some of the most aggressive approaches to immigration put in place by Mr. Trump over the past four years,’ the story claims.
It quotes Latino civil rights leader Marisa Franco, ‘The question that’s being asked now is: How are you actually different than Trump?’