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The “Growing Gulf” Between the Biden Administration’s Stated Vision and its Mistreatment of Haitians

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Washington, DC – Today is a national day of action in support of Haitian migrants, with actions planned in more than 10 cities across America. Ahead of today’s actions, two stories capture why there is so much energy and outrage around the Biden administration’s mistreatment of Haitians. Find excerpts and links below:

A Vox story by Nicole Narea, “Biden’s incoherent immigration policy”:

“There is a growing gulf between the progressive immigration values President Joe Biden professes and the enforcement policies he’s implementing at the border — and it’s led to confusion among immigration officials, uncertainty for migrants, and questions about whether the president has a coherent strategy on immigration at all.

On the campaign trail, Biden promised a more humane approach to the southern border than former President Donald Trump, whom he described as launching an “unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants” and “bullying legitimate asylum seekers.”

But during his first year in office, Biden has leaned on his predecessor’s efforts to cut off access to the asylum system on the border more than he admits. The Biden administration has clung to pandemic-related border restrictions enacted by Trump, known as the Title 42 policy, under which the US has expelled hundreds of thousands of migrants without giving them access to their legal right to apply for asylum. And faced with a recent spike in Haitian migrants at the border, Biden forcibly returned thousands to Haiti despite an ongoing political and humanitarian crisis there.”

The Guardian, “‘Who wouldn’t want out?’: migrants deported to Haiti face challenge of survival,” by Joe Parkin Daniels:

“‘It’s no secret that Haiti is poor and unsafe,’ said Joseph, who along with thousands of his countrymen was detained in southern Texas last month before being shackled and flown to Port-au-Prince. ‘But I didn’t know it had gotten this bad.’ It was his first time back to the country after five years in Chile with his wife. For their son, a Chilean citizen who was born in Santiago, it was his first ever visit to the country.

There is a Haitian proverb, beyond mountains there are mountains, loosely meaning that after one problem comes another, and in Port-au-Prince, that saying is a harrowing reality. Violent gangs rule the streets, kidnapping residents rich and poor alike for ransom every day, while shortages of fuel and basic goods are common, and public services from traffic lights to sewer systems are practically nonexistent. When President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home on 7 July in circumstances that remain murky, the situation only worsened. An earthquake the following month added to Haiti’s misery, killing at least 2,200 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

Overlapping calamities led the US to advise its embassy staff to stay in the compound, and its citizens to avoid all travel to the country. After the earthquake, the Biden administration extended “temporary protected status” for thousands of Haitian migrants and refugees already in the US to live and work legally. Just a few weeks later, thousands of desperate Haitians who had been detained on the Texas border were deported.

Many of them were returning to a country they had not seen for years, and many of those deportees are already plotting another escape. Some, who had already spent years in Brazil or Chile, plan to try their luck in South America again … for many the immediate challenge is survival.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Following four years of relentless cruelty and chaos at the hands of Trump, Stephen Miller and their cronies at DHS, the Biden administration came into office promising a ‘transformative vision’ – meaning a multi-layered regional strategy of root cause alleviation, expanded refugee and legal immigration pathways, sound border management, and a fair and functional asylum process. 

Currently, the Biden administration is deporting Haitians to a failing state wracked with violence and disorder, and doing so without giving them a meaningful chance to apply for asylum. There is a crisis, a moral crisis caused by the growing gap between what was promised and what the administration is doing.