Thousands of Haitian migrants residing in the United States and Mexico are being sent back, with governments referring to the mass expulsion as “an assisted voluntary return to Haiti.” Pictures of mounted border patrol agents attacking asylum seekers in Del Rio display the mistreatment of Haitians. Although the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security pledged to investigate “the conduct of particular individuals” caught abusing the Haitians, officials still refuse to acknowledge the larger problem: consistent discrimination against Haitians as a whole.
The recent assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, has left its citizens feeling unsafe. Many Haitians decided to leave the country due to the lack of jobs and opportunities. An immigrant named Stephanie said, “If jobs could be created, we would never have exposed ourselves to this misery in other countries.”
Rather than helping the troubled Haitians start a new chapter of their lives, Joe Biden and his staff have expelled more than 4,600 asylum seekers by funding flights back to Haiti. Thousands more remain in custody at border patrol awaiting expulsion. Even for those who were instructed to file asylum applications, successful immigration is not a guarantee. The paperwork takes an extremely long time to be processed; hundreds of people have already been waiting for months.
Biden is conducting the mass expulsion as a way to control the increase of Haitian asylum seekers. Several human rights groups, immigrant advocates, and members of Biden’s own party have condemned his administration’s treatment of Haitians. However, Biden continues to force Haitians to return to their politically unstable country, where they face imminent danger and possible death.
Experts at the United Nations have warned that the expulsions may violate international law, yet the U.S. justifies its actions by claiming it is following “Title 42.” This provisionary law was set in place during Donald Trump’s presidency, and uses the coronavirus as an excuse to block asylum seekers from entering the country.
The American government has a horrible history of dealing with Haitians without sympathy. When Haitians fled the Duvalier dictatorship in the 1970’s and sought refuge in South Florida, local officials pressured the state to keep the “poor, black and unwanted” away. Their actions led President Jimmy Carter’s government to establish a program which put incoming Haitians in local jails, denied them work, and prevented the opportunity for them to claim themselves as asylum seekers. Carter aimed to return all asylum seekers from Haiti, even though their re-arrival in Haiti could lead to their torture or deaths at the hands of the country’s political instability.
President Ronald Reagan adopted many of Carter’s policies oppressing the group. Americans intercepted Haitian boats before they could claim asylum and detained them until they could be expelled from the U.S. Meanwhile, the United States welcomed Cubans fleeing the Communist regime, which illustrates the American government’s double standard.
The Congressional Black Caucus argued that the Haitian interdiction program was extremely racist and violated laws to prohibit black refugees from entering the country. However, the body’s opposition was not taken seriously. When President George W. Bush came into power, he continued to block Haitian asylum seekers from reaching the U.S. and forcibly returned hundreds of asylum seekers to Haiti. Bush had vowed that he would offer Haitians temporary protections if he was elected, but no change was implemented.
Things continued to get worse when Donald Trump took the White House. He referred to immigrants coming from Africa as coming from “shithole” countries, showing his derogation for refugees, and also sought to end the protected status for Haitians who had been living in the U.S. since Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.
Although the Biden administration made several promises to introduce fair and humane immigration policies, it has continued to use the same discriminatory immigration policies. Even when a federal judge ordered the government to put an end to its mistreatment of asylum seekers, the Biden administration appealed the ruling in order to retain its power to expel migrants without due process.
Thousands of Haitians are impacted by this unfair and inhumane treatment, but the issue has not gained much attention on mainstream platforms. Individuals should be encouraged through social media to donate to organizations which directly support Haitian immigrant communities in the United States, such as the Haitian Bridge Alliance. People should also try to donate to national organizations devoted to immigration justice in Texas, such as the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, as well as legal organizations like the Haitian Immigrant Bail Assistant Project, which aims to pay bail in order to free detained refugees. Providing money to such organizations is the best way to provide direct help to those in need.
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