Haitians and a History of American Abuse | Richmond Free Press

The inhumane treatment of thousands of Haitian migrants camped and stranded at the US-Mexico border on the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas, is just the latest example of the double standard used by that country regarding black immigrants.

Over the past few months, we – the United States – have taken in thousands of white-appearing refugees from war-torn Afghanistan. We put brown Central American children in cages at immigration centers in Texas after separating them from their parents. And now we are putting black migrants from Haiti on planes and sending them back to a country ravaged by poverty, damaged by earthquakes and shaken by political turmoil and instability, as highlighted by l assassination of its president during an attempted coup in July.

Where is the compassionate immigration policy and treatment that President Biden has claimed he would institute as a result of the outright cruelty exercised by the former Trump administration?

Photos and videos of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on horseback using their long reins and mounts to hunt, intimidate, control and whip Haitians transporting their goods on foot across water and terrain rocky evoked images of America’s horrific past in the use of slaves. patrols and the Ku Klux Klan to terrorize African Americans.

“This cruelty is utterly sickening … and far too familiar to those who know America’s ugly history,” NAACP President and National CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement this week. “No one fleeing poverty and hunger should be treated in this blatant way. “

Mr Johnson has asked the Biden administration to grant temporary protective status to those seeking refuge. And he called for the deplorable actions of U.S. border patrol officers to be investigated and officers to be reprimanded.

We fully agree. There is no reason, justification or excuse for the mistreatment of Haitian migrants, many of whom left Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake to find work in Brazil, Chile and Central America. But with opportunities drying up in those countries after the need for cheap labor expired and the pandemic set in, many Haitians traveled to Mexico to enter the United States after President Biden took office and pledged to take a more humanitarian approach to immigration. .

According to published reports, many migrants have family in the United States. According to 2019 census data, more than one million Haitians live in the United States, with large colonies in South Florida, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago and Detroit and growing communities in North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

Recognizing the growing instability in Haiti, President Biden in May granted temporary protection status to approximately 150,000 Haitians already living in the United States. But it did nothing to help the thousands of people who fled Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moїse and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked that nation in mid-August.

And now we find it deplorable that the United States is deporting Haitians to the Texas border by plane and returning them to their homeland for public health reasons under a US policy known as Title 42.

The NAACP and 343 other civil rights and civil rights organizations have called on President Biden to end the evictions. According to Human Rights Watch, documents obtained by the organization show that the US Department of Homeland Security has warned that migrants and asylum seekers returned to Haiti could face harm, including “violent crimes, kidnappings, political crisis and civil unrest ”.

The organization also said that medical experts from the Department of Homeland Security filed a disclosure condemning the Title 42 policy in May, saying it “lacked valid public health justification.”

Human Rights Watch called the expulsions of Haitians “discriminatory and abusive.”

“This violent treatment of Haitians at the border is just the latest example of racially discriminatory, abusive and illegal US border policies that are driving people back to suffering and humanitarian disaster,” said Alison Parker, US CEO of Human Rights Watch.

While US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced after visiting Del Rio this week that the agency is undertaking a disciplinary investigation into the treatment of Haitian migrants there, we do not think that is enough. .

We join others in calling on President Biden to publicly condemn the actions of border patrol officers and publicly declare that such behavior will be grounds for dismissal.

We also call on the Biden administration to confront, address and revise the racially discriminatory immigration policies, including Title 42, and biased enforcement that have always plagued our country.

Right now, we find some solace in the monumental task of Vice President Kamala Harris, who earlier this year was led by President Biden to oversee efforts to tackle root causes. of migration to the United States from Central America. As she pledged this country’s help in creating jobs and stability to help people feel safe in their home countries and reduce the pressures leading to migration, we hope that Haiti can be added to its list of assistance.

The United States has owed Haiti a great deal for centuries, but instead we have a history of mistreatment of Haiti and Haitians.

Haitians came to our shores to help fight the British in the 1770s during our War of Independence. And even after the Haitians gained independence from the French colonial power in 1804, the United States government never recognized the black nation until 1862, when we were in the throes of our own civil war against it. slavery.

The United States has never given Haiti the respect or the help it deserves. We have treated the nation with hostility and domination, including an invasion in 1914 which precipitated a military occupation that lasted until 1934.

The US military occupied Haiti again in 1994, when the nation’s democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, returned from exile after fleeing a coup by the Haitian army. When he was re-elected in 2000, the US military worked with the Haitian military to forcibly remove him and send him back into exile – to South Africa.

In the 1990s, we also banned Haitian immigrants from entering the United States and placed many Haitian refugees, including pregnant women and children, in a prison camp at the US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, because they would have been carriers of the virus that causes AIDS. .

We are again mistreating Haitian migrants in Del Rio at the border.

It is time for the United States to end its racist and illegal policies and tactics against the poor, black nation and its people. Our energies must be used to build, not to destroy.

We must demand changes from our government when it comes to dealing with Haiti and its people.

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About Marco C. Nichols

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