immigration /

Biden Administration Considering Housing Haitian Migrants at Guantanamo Bay

The Migrant Operation Center may be expanded to fit 400 beds

A possible wave of migrants arriving from Haiti has prompted the Biden administration to consider using a military base as temporary housing.

The federal government may house the migrants at the United States Naval base at Guantanamo Bay in southwest Cuba, which houses the Migrant Operation Center. The center would be expanded to increase housing from 120 people to 400 people. 

According to documents reviewed by NBC News, the White House National Security Council asked the Department of Homeland Security what is the threshold for designating a third country as a “lily pad” where intercepted Haitian migrants would be held pending processing.

“The U.S. government always does contingency planning out of an abundance of caution, and for a wide range of potential scenarios. These contingencies for migration existed long before the Biden-Harris Administration,” a National Security Council spokesperson told the outlet. “We have not seen an increase in Haitian maritime migration, and no decisions have been made. … The United States continues to coordinate with our international partners first and foremost to support the people of Haiti and address the security and humanitarian situation in the country.”

More than 7,000 migrants from Haiti and Cuba were intercepted on boats by the US coast guard last year while attempting to reach America. 

Political unrest continues to mount in Haiti, prompting speculation that many citizens will feel the island country. According to The Hill, “violent gangs blocked access to the country’s largest fuel terminal” in September and “Haitians may make a mass exodus from the country by boat once fuel becomes accessible again.”

The Biden administration came under fire last September when it began searching for a private contractor to operate the migrant facility at Guantanamo Bay. At the time, a major influx of Haitian migrants at the US-Mexico border near Del Rio, Texas had reinvigorated the national conversation about President Joe Biden’s border policies. Many of the roughly 12,000 migrants attempting to cross into the US from Del Rio had left Haiti for South American countries years earlier. The Biden administration ultimately increased the number of deportation flights to break up the assembled mass but the flights were halted in August of 2022. 

“It’s highly concerning that the administration may be considering using Guantánamo to detain Haitian asylum-seekers or others,” Wendy Young, president of the immigrant advocacy group Kids in Need of Defense, told the media at the time. An estimated 12,000 Haitian migrants had been detained at the facility during President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

The Migrant Operation Center is separate from the terrorist prison facility at Guantanamo Bay.

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