Facebook Inc. has been revealed to be an enabler in the humanitarian crisis at the southern border by permitting information about illegally crossing the border to spread on WhatsApp.
Roughly 14,000 Haitian migrants arrived at the border this month, coming through Mexico into the Rio Grande Valley community of Del Rio, Texas, according to the Associated Press.
The outlet reported that since President Joe Biden took office, migrants had been informed through social media to arrive in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, before coming to the United States.
The community borders Del Rio and is generally considered safer than other nearby towns.
The AP highlighted the story of a Haitian migrant named Fabricio Jean, who is now in the migrant encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge, and how he was able to arrive in the U.S.
“You will need about 20,000 pesos (about $1,000 U.S. dollars) for the buses. You need to take this bus to this location and then take another bus,” Jean said, citing tips sent to him by his brother through WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.
Another woman who arrived with her two teenage children told the outlet her cousin sent her audio messages on the app, which guided them to the U.S.
“Wait in Mexico until this month is over. They will pick up everyone under the bridge. After that, they will give me the contact to enter Miami,” her cousin said in the recording.
According to the report, Facebook’s current policy does allow for information about migration to be communicated through its platforms, even if it is information about illegal immigration.
Should Facebook revise its policy?
The Big Tech company does draw the line when it comes to sending information requesting money for human smuggling activities and bans all posts of that nature.
Last week, instructions on getting through Mexico, including routes to avoid and specific bus companies to use, were posted by a member of a Facebook group for Haitians in Chile.
“Good luck and be careful,” a translation of the post said.
Migrants have also been using YouTube to share information on how to get into the U.S.
The AP also highlighted the story of Robins Exile, who left Brazil after losing his job, and his pregnant wife. On their way to Ciudad Acuña, the couple changed course and went to Tijuana, Mexico, after other migrants shared warnings on YouTube and WhatsApp.
“A lot of Haitians are advising now not to come to Acuña,” he said. “They say it’s no longer a good place.”
In the spring, temporary protections were offered to Haitians escaping social unrest, however, those protections were limited to those in the U.S. before July 29.
Many of the social media posts did not include that information, leaving many Haitians still seeking to enter the U.S. with the impression that they would also be eligible for the protections.
“[W]e are very concerned that Haitians who are taking the irregular migration path are receiving misinformation that the border is open,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said this week.
The administration also worried the migrants believed “they qualify for protected status despite the expired deadline.”
“I want to make sure it is known that this is not the way to come to the United States,” Mayorkas said.
Those who made it to Del Rio are facing a variety of outcomes, drawing bipartisan criticism.
Many conservatives are frustrated that migrants are being released into the U.S. and given court papers, whereas liberals are furious about some migrants being deported back to Haiti via repatriation flights.
Daniel Lewis Foote, who the Biden administration appointed in July to be the U.S. special envoy to Haiti, resigned from his position Wednesday due to the decision to deport the refugees.
“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life,” he said in his letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”
SCOOP: Special Envoy for Haiti, Amb Daniel Foote, a career member of foreign service, has RESIGNED. In his letter of resignation, he says he will not be associated with the U.S.’s “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees.” Letter attached. pic.twitter.com/KlW5GoTF3u
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) September 23, 2021
The Biden administration’s immigration policies have been primarily responsible for the crisis, and it has now been revealed that Big Tech added fuel to the fire by allowing people to get details about the dangerous and often illegal journey across the southern border.