According to a report from NBC News, the Biden administration is considering expanding capacity at a prison at Guantanamo Bay to house Haitian migrants. Citing two U.S. officials and an internal planning document, NBC News reported the administration was also considering holding migrants in a third country.
The considerations are in preparation for a potential influx of migrants from Haiti to the U.S. In late September, gangs seeking to overturn Haiti’s government staged a land blockade of the country’s main fuel supply point, blocking fuel from leaving the depot and thwarting the hopes of those seeking to leave the country by boat. The Biden administration predicts that when the fuel is no longer blocked, there could be a mass exodus of Haitians trying to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. by sea.
“The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Haiti,” a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council (NSC) told NBC News. “We recently delivered Haitian government-purchased security equipment, including tactical and armored vehicles and supplies, that will assist the Haitian National Police in their fight against criminal actors inciting violence.”
For more than 30 years, Guantanamo Bay has had a Migrant Operations Center that houses migrants picked up by the Coast Guard in the Caribbean. According to the document reviewed by NBC News, plans are under consideration that would roughly double the capacity at the Migrant Operations Center to 400 beds.
The Migrant Operations Center is not part of the prison for terrorist suspects. The NBC News report came just over a month after President Joe Biden appointed a senior diplomat to oversee detainee transfers in an apparent attempt to move towards closing Guantanamo Bay.
In addition to Guantanamo Bay, the NSC is asking the Department of Homeland Security what number of Haitian migrants would require the designation of a third country, known as a “lily pad,” to hold and process migrants who are intercepted at sea. The NSC is also asking what number would overwhelm a lily pad country and require Haitians to be taken to Guantanamo, according to the document.