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Healey joins 17 other attorneys general calling for Biden to address treatment of Haitian migrants at southern border

U.S. Border Patrol agents stop migrants crossing the Rio Grande River near the Del Rio-Acuna Port of Entry in Del Rio, Texas, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. U.S. officials plan to expel thousands of Haitian migrants that arrived at the small Texas city of Del Rio this week.Eric Thayer/Bloomberg

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a growing list of local elected officials who are urging President Joe Biden to address the harsh treatment of Haitian immigrants attempting to cross the southern border.

Healey announced on Twitter Thursday that she has joined 17 other state attorneys general in signing a letter to the president that calls for the Biden administration to “exercise its discretion — discretion that the law expressly provides — to demonstrate compassion and fairness in the treatment of those Haitians seeking refuge in our country.”

“Massachusetts is home to a beautiful and thriving Haitian community, many of whom came to our state fleeing instability,” Healey said in an accompanying tweet. “My heart is with them and families at the border searching for food, shelter, and basic life necessities. They deserve to be treated with dignity.”


Other New England attorneys general who signed the letter are Peter Neronha of Rhode Island, Aaron M. Frey of Maine, Thomas J. Donovan Jr. of Vermont, and William Tong of Connecticut.

The letter comes as thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, have settled in an encampment in Del Rio, Texas, near the border from Mexico. Many are fleeing the turmoil in Haiti, which was rocked by a devastating earthquake and a hurricane over the summer, as well as the assassination of the country’s president Jovenel Moise, a murder that remains unsolved.

Photos circulated the news media earlier this week showing US Border Patrol agents on horseback herding groups of migrants who were attempting to cross the Rio Grande in Texas and enter the country, sparking outcry and criticism of the Biden administration’s enforcement of Trump-era immigration policies to expel migrants without allowing them to apply for asylum.

On Wednesday, the US special envoy to Haiti quit his job, writing in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he could not be associated with the White House’s decision to deport thousands of Haitian migrants to their home country, calling the move “inhumane.” Daniel Foote was named special envoy in July, just weeks after Moise was assassinated.


Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced it would raise the cap on the number of refugees the US will take in during the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, to 125,000.

Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.