Exclusive: U.S. border authorities warn of food insecurity in Haiti, as Mayorkas defends deportations

While the Biden administration has defended its decision to deport thousands to Haiti in recent days, internal government documents obtained by Yahoo News suggest U.S. immigration authorities are closely monitoring the bleak conditions to which Haitians expelled from the U.S. are being forced to return.

On Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s office of intelligence highlighted concerns of widespread food insecurity in Haiti in its daily report on current and emerging threats.

“On 24 September, Haitian authorities indicated about 4.3 million people are in a state of serious food insecurity,” reads the CBP bulletin, which was marked unclassified and “Law Enforcement Sensitive.”

The alert cites an article from a Spanish-language news site reporting that, according to Haiti’s National Food Safety Coordination agency, “insecurity, poor production, natural disasters and inflation are the main drivers of current levels of severe food insecurity” on the island, while “gang violence has complicated the delivery of humanitarian response to the food crisis.”

Another report produced by the CBP intelligence office on Monday references an Associated Press article on the dire situation for Haitians returning home.

“The deportees join thousands of fellow Haitians who have been displaced from their homes, pushed out by violence to take up residence in crowded schools, churches, sports centers and makeshift camps among ruins,” reads the excerpt of the AP report cited in the CBP alert. “Many of these people are out of reach even for humanitarian organizations.”

The reports highlighted by CBP’s intelligence office seem to contradict public statements made by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has defended recent deportations of Haitian migrants despite concerns about conditions in the country following the president’s assassination in July and a devastating earthquake in August.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, since Sept. 19 the U.S. has expelled approximately 3,900 individuals to Haiti on 37 flights.

“We have continued to study the conditions in Haiti, and we have in fact determined, despite the tragic and devastating earthquake, that Haiti is in fact capable of receiving individuals,” Mayorkas told reporters at the White House on Friday. “And we are working with Haiti and with humanitarian relief agencies to ensure that their return is as safe and humanely accomplished as possible.”

When asked to comment on the apparent conflict between Mayorkas’s statements and the CBP intelligence reports warning of food shortages and other dangerous conditions in Haiti, a DHS spokesman referred Yahoo News to similar comments made by the secretary on various cable news shows on Sunday.

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Caitlin Dickson and Jana Winter