Around 500 people gathered in St. Paul to march in support of immigrants and protest Republican President Donald Trump's immigration policies. The protesters called for the end of deportations, the Muslim travel ban, and discrimination against undocumented immigrants. They spoke in support of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for countries like El Salvador and Haiti. The protest was in St. Paul, Minnesota, January 20, 2018. Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution License, Fibonacci Blue

Mystery of iniquity. Treatment of undocumented Haitians at the border shows disparities in U.S. immigration policy

3 mins read

Biden Administration’s response to deport Haitians at the U.S.-Mexico border worsens in reports, photos of border patrols rounding up immigrants.

Similar to a scene out of a slave movie, photographs and video footage were released on Sunday showing U.S. mounted border police capturing Haitians fleeing from authorities. Using tactics resembling Antebellum slave-catching techniques, U.S. Border Patrol agents used whips to thwart Haitians attempting to cross the Rio Grande river to get to Texas.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) tweeted on Monday about the visuals coming from the situation.

These are horrific images from our Southern Border depicting Border Patrol agents allegedly whipping Haitian migrants. These are cruel, inhumane, human rights abuses and a violation of domestic and international law. We must humanely process Haitian asylum seekers at our border.

For weeks, thousands of Haitians have been living under a bridge in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico in unhygienic and deteriorated conditions. They are the latest wave of immigrants using the U.S.-Mexico border to enter into the country. Some say they have been on this journey since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The devastation in the Latin island-nation, forced them to migrate to South America for work. When the pandemic shuttered businesses there, they set out for the U.S.

| Read: A tale of two islands. Should Biden intervene in Haiti following its recent crisis

Leading up to the recent development at the U.S.-Mexico border, organizations urged the Biden Administration to take action. The Black Alliance for Just Immigration executive director, Nana Gyamfi cited the issue as a “growing human rights catastrophe” that was a “continued militarization of the border.”

On the other side of Ciudad Acuña is Del Rio, Texas, a small border town bracing for the influx of migrants, if it happens. But, the Biden Administration has been adamant about sending Haitians back to their country.

“It’s devastating to watch this footage,” admitted White House press secretary, Jen Psaki in a briefing. But, Sec’y Psaki reiterated, “I think it’s important though for people to also know that what we’re trying to do is also protect people.”

In the briefing, Sec’y Psaki emphasized that the Biden Administration will continue to use Title 42, an ordinance passed during the Trump Administration. Title 42 states that immigration into the U.S. is halted due to the public health concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the 55,300 Haitians who were under Temporary Protection Status would have to leave. However, following coverage of the Haitian migrant crisis at the border, Sec’y Psaki also said that they were working with American Red Cross and World Central Kitchen to provide food and medical resources as they continue operations in forced returns.

Haitians Vs every other immigrant

Returning Haitians to their home country presents a resonating problem. Currently, it is embroiled in a host of grave issues of security and political turmoil, as well as, recovering from a large earthquake in August. Pointed out by journalist April Ryan who pressed Sec’y Psaki by asking, “What is there for them to go back to when these planes are taking them back?” Ryan continued, “The nation is in unrest. The President was assassinated.”

Even Haiti has stepped in. Reports from the Haitian Times say that Haiti’s national migration office asked the U.S. to enact a “humanitarian moratorium” because they were unsure of how they were going to feed incoming patriots.

Further calling out the Biden Administration, Gyamfi demanded that those seeking to enter the U.S. be treated as “Haitian asylum seekers” rather than criminalized.

. . . .

The overarching sentiment regarding Haitian immigration to the U.S. are the gross differences on how they are treated as a migrant population. Over the years, Black migrants in general have expressed disparities in the process of coming to the U.S. For Haitians, the treatment seems worse. Most notably, were the Mariel boat lifts in the 1980s in South Florida that saw undocumented Cuban and Haitian immigrants attempting to the come to the U.S. by boat. While Cubans were provided asylum, many Haitians were sent back.

Today, the discrepancy is seen with U.S. assistance in the Middle East. For weeks, the U.S. has been part of a collective of nations working to move 60,000 Afghan refugees from Afghanistan, while Haitians are being dropped back into a home country that has been negatively impacted, in many ways, by U.S. policy.

As Haitians struggle to find stability, the Biden Administration works to deal with other matters of immigration. The “President is absolutely committed to putting in place a path to citizenship, to putting in place long-overdue measures to fix our immigration system — to make it more moral, humane, and workable, frankly,” assures, Sec’y Psaki. Though the secretary has not provided if any of this will be addressed before midterm, the hope is that stability for Haitians in transit does not totally fall apart.

Kaia Shivers covers news, features and the diaspora.

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