Ongoing deportations to a nation engulfed in political violence and despair. Photos of Border Patrol officers on horse treating Haitians the way plantation overseers used to treat slaves. Outrage at an administration that claims to have the backs of Black people.
Let us listen to spokespeople who are themselves Haitians, Black, immigrants or asylum seekers. They offer deep insights on the treatment of Black migrants and refugees.
Guerline Jozef of Haitian Bridge Alliance in The Daily Beast:
“Black asylum seekers need compassion, not an endless cycle of inhumane and careless treatment…As the world is watching, the administration is deporting 1,000 people based on a system of cruelty, sadism and oppression despite supposed outrage over men on horseback whipping Black children and families.”
Patrice Lawrence, co-director of UndocuBlack Network, has a column published by CNN, An outrage at America’s border:
“A human-rights catastrophe has taken shape on the border in Texas — and it has happened on the Biden administration’s watch… Joe Biden’s administration is making things worse by refusing to process these asylum seekers, instead herding hundreds of them onto planes and back into harm’s way in Haiti. There is no moral justification for this behavior. First, the facts. Haitians, like all people, have a legal right to seek asylum in the United States. Although asylum seekers may present themselves at an official port of entry, they are not required to do so.”
The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) helped lead a letter from Black Civil Rights leaders on Sept 22. and also issued their own statement on Sept. 17 flagging the history of disparate treatment for Haitian and Black migrants:
“For years, under different administrations (Obama, Trump and now Biden), BAJI has warned of a human rights catastrophe of this nature. The Biden administration has offered that they are different from past administrations. They have claimed a racial justice lens; and yet here we are. The US has the resources to treat asylum seekers with compassion and dignity. Today for Citizenship Day, Biden praised immigrants because they have ‘courage’ to leave behind everything that they know to pursue the possibilities of a better life in the US. As Black people, we know the complexities of existing on this land, and the elusive freedom and citizenship that the US promises, but everyday we dream and work toward a different reality.“
The Grio reports on a letter sent to DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties from Haitian Bridge Alliance, The UndocuBlack Network, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and African Communities Together:
“The collective of Black immigration advocacy groups in their complaint to DHS accused the department of denying migrants their statutory and international law rights to apply for asylum; having a lack of interpreters for communication with DHS officials; verbal abuse and physical violence/intimidation; and denying media outlets access to the border area, among other alleged violations. Due to these complaints, the coalition is demanding the stop of all deportations for those migrants whose rights were violated at the Del Rio border.
It is the hope of these advocacy groups that migrants can testify to the violations they endured or witnessed. As for those who have already been expelled from the country, [Breanne} Palmer [UndocuBlack Network Policy and Advocacy Director] says the DHS should bring back those who were “deported before they were able to speak to legal advocates or human rights advocates.”
Palmer added that if Black immigration advocacy groups do not have their asks met by the administration, they are considering legal recourse. “We are exploring our options,” she said.”
Powerful comments from the Reverend Al Sharpton in the Washington Post:
“He said on election night: Black America, you had my back, I’ll have yours. Well, we’re being stabbed in the back, Mr. President. We need you to stop the stabbing — from Haiti to Harlem.”
New York Times columnist Charles Blow in his new piece, “The Mendacity of Joe Biden”:
“The Biden administration — and Democrats in general — always seem to say the right things on racial issues, but too often their deeds come up short when measured against their talk.
…At a certain point, words ring hollow, even when they are the right words … The Biden administration’s handling of the Haitians was just wrong. It was also heartbreaking and disgusting.”
…As is too often the case, Black people become the political pawn, a weight around the ankle or a weapon in the hand. Our humanity is reduced to a calculation or a cause. We can be chased down by horseback-riding agents or flown out by weak-kneed presidents.”
American Immigration Lawyers Association President Allen Orr on Border Patrol agents seen on horseback cruelly corralling migrants:
“I understand they’ve already been suspended but they need to be fired. This is a reprehensible sort of action against foreign nationals applying for entry into our border and we saw the photos and videos as we’ve seen in many other Black crimes so there’s really not a lot to think about. It’s also not the type of thing you can untrain someone to do. If someone is going to treat a human being in that fashion it isn’t something you go in the room and have a conversation with him about and say please don’t do this again.”
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) led fellow Democrats in hosting a press conference at the House triangle last week, and sent a letter to the Biden Administration urging an immediate end to deportations to Haiti and support for the diaspora. Rep. Pressley said in a statement alongside the letter:
“The Biden Administration cannot claim it is doing everything it can to support the Haitian community while continuing to unjustly deport Haitians as the island weathers its worst political, public health and economic crises yet. We have a moral obligation to lead with compassion. That means immediately halting the cruel and callous deportations of our Haitian neighbors and leveraging every resource available to support those fleeing the humanitarian crisis on the island.”
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, has spoken forcefully on the treatment Haitians have endured:
“No person fleeing poverty and hunger should be treated in this egregious manner. For far too long, the Haitian community has endured mistreatment at the hands of our nation. The administration has got to grant temporary protected status (TPS) to those seeking refuge. The actions of the U.S. border patrol are deplorable and should be investigated and reprimanded. Our country claims to be better than this — we must show it.”
MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid also condemned the Biden Administration’s cruelty, adding:
“Unbelievable images from Del Rio, Texas. This video shows horse patrol for U.S. Customs and Border Protection trying to corral human beings like cattle and chasing after Haitian migrants trying to cross back into U.S. These horrifying images seem far more reminiscent of the fugitive slave acts of the 1790s and 1850 and not 2021.”
Center for American Progress President and CEO Patrick Gaspard, and Former Obama-era Ambassador to South Africa, visited Del Rio and wrote in a statement:
“The Biden administration must do more to protect Haitians, starting by immediately halting deportations back to Haiti. Current conditions in the country cannot support these deportations. The administration must also ensure that all people at the border are, at a bare minimum, treated humanely and given food and water, shelter, and medical care as needed.”
Black Lives Matter condemned the treatment of Haitians at the border:
“Over the weekend, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents on horseback whipped and brutalized Haitian asylum-seekers, forcing them away from crossing into the United States. CBP is rooted in the same history of slave catching as other policing agencies. This despicable origin is starkly illustrated in the video and photo images of this weekend’s brutality. Once again, we are reminded that policing and immigration are inextricably linked and that migration is rife with anti-Blackness.”
The Black Alliance for Peace also called out the Biden Administration for their “illegal and racist” policy of deporting Haitians:
“This rogue state action is both morally indefensible and illegal under international law. The United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention ‘recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries’ and stipulates that states have an obligation to provide reasonable measures to allow for individuals to seek asylum. Ajamu Baraka, national organizer for the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) added “Seeking asylum by individuals who may be facing prosecution, imprisonment and even death because of political affiliation or membership in racial, national, sexual or religious groups is a recognized requirement under international law. That the Biden administration has ordered federal authorities to mass deport thousands of Haitians, which will probably have the effect of driving many of them who will resist deportation back into Mexico and Central and South America, is both unprecedented in its scope and fundamentally racist.”