Diaspora

Biden eyes expanded Guantanamo migrant center as Haiti crisis deepens – Axios

People flee their homes during an attack by armed gangs in the Carrefour Feuille neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images
The Biden administration is preparing for the possibility of mass migration from Haiti by expanding a migrant center on Guantanamo Bay and looking into the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos for temporary new holding sites, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: Haiti has been beset by gang violence, fuel shortages and a recent cholera outbreak. For months, the administration has held informal planning meetings on how to hold potentially hundreds of migrants at a time, before quickly returning them to the beleaguered island.
By the numbers: There was a significant uptick in the number of Haitians interdicted at sea last year, with 7,175 Haitians interdicted in fiscal year 2022 compared to 1,527 the year before — and just 418 during FY 2020, according to Coast Guard data provided to Axios.
State of play: Gang control of Haiti's ports has wreaked havoc on the island, making it difficult for people to obtain fuel, water and food. The gang crisis has made it more difficult for the U.S. to quickly return Haitians interdicted at sea.
Zoom in: Use of the MOC is not new. For decades, migrants interdicted at sea who fear persecution at home have been held there while officials search for a third country to host them.
What to watch: The government is already making efforts to expand capacity to hold up to 400 migrants at a time.
On the ground: The U.N.'s International Organization for Migration provides assistance to Haitians who are deported back to the country.
The big picture: The use of the Bahamas or the expanded use of Guantanamo Bay would be the latest in a long string of controversial U.S. policies on Haitian migration.
The bottom line: Despite the administration's outspoken concern about the current situation in Haiti, its planning on the migration front is intended to prevent Haitians from reaching the U.S. mainland and return them to the island as quickly as possible, according to two government officials familiar with ongoing conversations and internal documents.

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