JOE BIDEN HAS described violent scenes where US border guards on horseback confronted destitute Haitian migrants crossing from Mexico “outrageous” and promised “consequences”.
“It was horrible,” he told reporters at the White House in his first comments on the drama. “It’s outrageous. I promise you: those people will pay…. There will be consequences.”
Biden took office in January vowing to reverse what he called his Republican predecessor Donald Trump’s inhumane policies at the southern border.
Trump, who regularly warned that US borders were being overwhelmed and claimed falsely that immigrants were bringing large-scale crime and disease, focused much of his presidency on promises to control the frontiers.
One of Trump’s signature issues was funding to build sections of wall along the Mexican border and to repair existing sections. The policy was hugely popular with his core supporters, whom he encouraged to chant “build the wall” at mass rallies.
Biden finds himself in a bind eight months into his presidency, with huge numbers of would-be migrants being apprehended after crossing illegally from Mexico, including 200,000 people in August.
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Democrats accuse Biden of reneging on his promises, pointing to his decision to retain tough deportation rules, something the White House says is required due to Covid-19 restrictions.
That conflict came into dramatic focus this month when border guards on horseback were photographed trying to block Haitian immigrants crossing on foot from Mexico after arduous journeys.