The U.S led a mass expulsion of thousands of Haitian migrants from Del Rio, Texas last week. Horrifying images and videos of thousands of Haitian migrants went rogue all over the media due to the inhumane actions of border patrol. Haitian migrants along the southern border with Mexico were seeking refuge and asylum in the United States. The images surfacing the media show Haitian migrants carrying their lives atop their heads, holding children above their shoulders and hanging on to a few of their belongings in the hopes to start a new life in the U.S.
The Biden Administration faced strong criticism for its handling of the Haitian migrants at the U.S. southern border. Shocking images of mounted border patrol agents chasing migrants with what looked like whips went viral. The haunting images call to mind the slave patrols and bring back terrible memories of America’s darkest past.
White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, said the images were “horrible to watch…I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate,” Psaki said at a news briefing. She continued, “we just saw this footage. It’s horrible to watch. I just have to get more information,” stressing that the Border Patrol agents “should never be able to do it again.” Commenting on President Biden’s reaction, the White House Press Secretary said, “he believes that the footage and photos are horrific. They don’t represent who we are as a country. And he was pleased to see the announcement of the investigation.”
The images also shocked Vice President Kamala Harris who described the treatment of Haitian migrants by the U.S Border Patrol as “horrible.” Human beings should never be treated this way and I am deeply troubled about it,” stressed Harris. Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Secretary of the Homeland Security Department, begun an investigation.
Following the mass expulsions, Haitians on the US side said they were not informed that they would be deported to Haiti, causing shock and anger for those who have arrived in Port-au-Prince instead of the countries they had left from, such as Chile.
Haiti has experienced a series of crises in the last two decades that has triggered waves of migration. Two major earthquakes, several hurricanes, political and economic instability, violence in the streets and the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The UN estimates that almost 4 million Haitians, out of about 11.5 million, are food insecure. One fifth of the population, about two million people, have been forced to emigrate.
The lack of options to travel to the United States has led thousands of Haitians to seek refuge in other countries in recent years, mainly those that are accessible without a visa in Latin America. Many settled in Chile and Brazil, the main countries from which most of the thousands of Haitian migrants left for the United States in recent months, said Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Wednesday.
Mexico registered the arrival of 147,000 undocumented immigrants between January and August, triple that of 2020, while the US authorities detained some 212,000 migrants in July alone, the first time the 200,000 barrier has been exceeded in 21 years.
“Sanitary products? There aren’t any. Food? There aren’t any either. They don’t give you anything. What kills me is that everyone knows what we Haitians are going through. There’s no President, crime is high. Students can’t go to school, there’s no work, the economy is down. People can’t put up with that.” – Nicolas, Haitian Migrant (who was part of the many migrants crossing the border.)
The Biden administration’s mass removal of Haitian immigrants back to Haiti has prompted Democratic leaders, like Senator Chuck Schumer of New York to express strong disapproval: “I urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions. We cannot continue these hateful xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws.”
Haitians are being returned to Haiti under the Title 42 U.S Policy, singling out asylum seekers crossing into the United States through land borders. The asylum seekers are typically from Central America, Africa, and Haiti who happen to be Black, Indigenous or Latino. The expedited expulsions were made possible by a measure related to the pandemic implemented by the government of President Donald Trump in March 2020, which allows migrants to be immediately removed from the country without being allowed to apply for asylum. President Joe Biden established an exemption for minors, but allowed the measure to be maintained for the rest of the migrants.
“The US government showed a total disregard for the right to seek asylum when it sent agents on horseback with reins flailing to control and deter this largely Black migrant population,” said Alison Parker, US managing director at Human Rights Watch. “This violent treatment of Haitians at the border is just the latest example of racially discriminatory, abusive, and illegal US border policies that are returning people to harm and humanitarian disaster.”
“The use of Title 42 follows a long, tragic, and sordid history of the US government interdicting and summarily returning Haitian migrants and asylum seekers,” Parker said. “Instead of continuing harsh, racially discriminatory, and illegal policies directed against a group of people who are overwhelmingly Black, the Biden administration should unequivocally break with this history and ensure equal treatment for all.”
Immigration advocates call on the administration to examine the dire living conditions in Haiti, which led to the TPS extended authorization in late July for Haitians who were in the country to continue living and working in the United States.
The Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, Katherina Obser, stated that “it is reprehensible that Haitian families seeking safety amidst political violence and a devastating earthquake at home are met with anti-Black violence and no real opportunity to seek protection” Many of the Migrants who arrived in Del Rio have not stepped foot in Haiti in years. They have been living in South America after escaping the disastrous earthquake that Haiti experienced in 2010.
During a Senate hearing that occurred last week on Monday, Republicans pressured Mayorkas about the current Haitian migration crisis: “This is a humanitarian crisis in Del Rio- you can spin it whichever way you want. But you’re quite right, we should not minimize the humanitarian conditions for which, frankly, you’re responsible” stressed Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri. “You and your administration are responsible,” continued Hawley.
Governors Greg Abott of Texas also said, “ What the world is witnessing now is the open-border policies that are being utilized by the Biden administration. It attracts people from across the entire globe. It’s total chaos and the Biden administration, they need to up their game big time.”
I'm heartbroken by the treatment of Haitian migrants at our border — and I acknowledge it is only the latest of many historic indignities that Haitians have faced. We will continue to offer assistance and investigate wrongdoing. I remain committed, as ever, to Haiti's future. pic.twitter.com/Cu1TlqF4EA
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 24, 2021
Between September 19 and September 27, 37 U.S. flights landed in Haiti with 3,936 migrants on board, including 2,300 parents and children who entered U.S. border custody as families, according to Department of Homeland Security data. A majority of migrants returned to Haiti previously lived in Chile, Brazil and other South American nations and have not lived in Haiti for years. About 44% of the deportees Haiti has received since September 19 are women and children, according to IOM. In just nine days, the U.S. has expelled nearly 4,000 Haitian migrants.
Ways To Help
The horrific news about Haitian migrants’ treatment at the border and their surprise deportations and can leave us feeling angry and devastated, not knowing how we can help Haitians who have endured so much already. Many of us do not live near the border or are unable to volunteer with organizations who are providing aid on the ground, but thankfully we can always donate. Below are some organizations you can consider donating to support Haitian asylum seekers, any kind of donation helps, even the smallest amount. Of course, it is fundamental to speak up about what is going on, not only to your representatives but to your communities, family and friends. Raising and using your voice to speak up about the injustices occurring in our Country is a step to create a positive change.
- The Haitian Bridge Alliance has been supporting Haitian immigrants in California for years. One of their organizations is located in Texas, working to provide needed supplies, reuniting families, and taking in asylum seekers who were not deported. Donate here
- The Black Freedom Factory, based in San Antonio, is a grassroots organization on the ground providing food and supplies at the border. They are also providing shelter, supplies and food for newly arrived asylum seekers in Texas. Donate here
- Baji is a national organization which contains staff in Texas. The organization is for immigration justice and advocates for Black immigrant communities. Currently, Baji is working on fighting to stop the deportations done by the Biden administration. Donate here.
- The Haitian Immigrant Bail Assistant project (HIBAP) helps pay bail to free detained refugees, asylum seekers, and other undocumented immigrants. Donate here.
- The Houston Haitian United has dedicated their years of work to help the Haitian community in Houston. Thankfully, the organization is currently on the ground helping run a shelter with volunteers, providing Haitians with food, basic necessities, translation services, Covid tests, and other services such as hair. Donate here.
- World Central Kitchen is an international organization helping people in need of food. They will relocate to areas that need more supplies of food and where hunger is more prevalent.Currently, World Central Kitchen is on the ground in Del Rio providing Haitian Asylum seekers with thousands of warm meals made in their food trucks. Donate here.
- Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition dedicates their time to provide food, supplies, and transportation to new refugees who have made it past the border patrols. Donate here.
Vanessa Campa is a Senior student at Florida International University majoring in English and minoring in Psychology. Vanessa grew up with a huge Latinx community in Miami, Fl where the majority of the population is Hispanic, and was raised by two amazing immigrant parents. She has a passion for art, photography, humanitarian issues, human rights issues, and telling stories that have an impact on shifting perspectives and educating audiences. She hopes to get into the journalism field to continue her love of storytelling. In her time with the Latina Republic, Vanessa wants to contribute to change the stereotypical narrative of her people and tell inspiring unrecognized stories that need to be brought to light.