Marisa Franco, executive director of civil rights group Mijente, said: “They’ll be hard-pressed to repeat the narrative that Trump is the only one who is inhumane. The question that’s being asked now is: How are you [Mr Biden] actually different than Trump?”
Maxine Waters, a Democrat congresswoman, said: “We are following the Trump policy. What the hell are we doing here?”
The backlash came as a beleaguered Mr Biden was battling crises on all fronts – including the surge at the border, an internecine struggle in his own party over his massive spending plans, a looming potential government shutdown, and a diplomatic row with France.
In the 1990s, the US sent thousands of fleeing Haitians to a refugee camp in Guantanamo Bay following a coup in their country. The new contract issued by the homeland security department this week said it was looking to operate a facility that would have a daily population of 20, but that could rise to 400 needing tents and cots.
Eleanor Acer, director of refugee protection at the Human Rights First, said: “Sending people who are seeking protection to a place that is notorious for being treated as a rights-free zone is the last thing that the Biden administration should do. It is nothing more than a blatant attempt to evade oversight, due process, human rights protections and the refugee laws of the United States.”
A Department of Homeland Security spokesman said: “DHS is not and will not send Haitian nationals being encountered at the southwest border to the Migrant Operations Center in Guantanamo Bay.”
The latest development came as Mr Biden was already facing growing anger from human rights activists for continuing one of Mr Trump’s policies called Title 42, which allows for the immediate expulsion of arriving migrants due to the pandemic.
The US House of Representatives last night voted overwhelmingly for legislation to provide $1 billion (£700 million) to Israel to replenish its “Iron Dome” missile-defence system, just two days after the funding was removed from a broader spending bill. Israel responded quickly.
“Those who try to challenge this support got a resounding response today,” Naftali Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, said last night.