The Homeland Security Department is soliciting bids from contractors to "erect temporary housing facilities for populations that exceed 120 and up to 400 migrants in a surge event" at the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and "at least 10 percent of the augmented personnel must be fluent in Spanish and Haitian Creole," NBC News reports. Government records show that Guantánamo Bay, which has been used to house terrorism suspects since 2001, also has a more obscure immigrant holding facility that "will have an estimated daily population of 20 people."
DHS told NBC News that, despite its inference, the Biden administration "is not and will not send Haitian nationals being encountered at the southwest border to the Migrant Operations Center (MOC) in Guantánamo Bay. The MOC has been used for decades to process migrants interdicted at sea for third-country resettlement. The request for information (RFI) recently posted is a typical, routine first step in a contract renewal, and unrelated to the Southwest Border."
The Guantánamo contract, first awarded in 2002, ends in April 2022," DHS added, and "migrants awaiting resettlement who are not in ICE custody at the MOC are neither detained nor imprisoned and are free at any time to return to their country of origin."
"During the George H.W. Bush administration from 1991 to 1993, when many Haitians sought to flee the country to seek asylum in Florida, as many as 12,000 were sent to Guantánamo Bay under a policy overseen by then-Attorney General William Barr," NBC News notes.
Now, thousands of Haitian migrants have amassed under an international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Mexico, putting "the Biden administration in the exact place it's tried to avoid: knee deep in immigration politics," Politico reports. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas highlights that the U.S. is flying hundreds of the migrants back to Haiti, drawing rebukes from President Biden's fellow Democrats. But DHS has also released hundreds of the Haitians into the U.S. with orders to report to court for asylum hearings, The Associated Press reports.
Most of the Haitians had been living in Chile, Brazil, and other South American countries since fleeing Haiti after a 2010 earthquake, AP reports. They saw or were sent detailed instructions on how to get to the U.S. border on WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social media apps, sometimes from relatives and other times from human smugglers looking to drum up business.