Mr. President, Haitian Lives Matter Too

Haitian Migrants at a makeshift camp near the international bridge between Acuna, Mexico, and Del Rio, Texas.

Alexander Matthews

The Biden Administration caused controversy after images of poor treatment of Haitian migrants fleeing violence and disaster in Haiti by Border Patrol agents.

You may have seen a widely-spread photo of a border patrol agent on horseback using what looks like a “whip” on a Haitian man trying to seek asylum in the United States. Haitian migrants are being treated horribly by CBP and ICE agents, and the Biden Administration has been swiftly deporting these migrants back to Haiti, a country most have not lived in for years. Haiti has experienced a catastrophic amount of crisis during the 21st century, including the 2004 coup d’etat, the 2010 earthquake which killed over 200,000, and the recent assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moise, in July and the other (stronger) earthquake in August, to name a few. These catastrophic events have resulted in many migrants fleeing Haiti, often to countries in South America such as Chile and Brazil, and then north through Central America to hopefully successfully claim asylum as the United States-Mexico border. 

In late September,  thousands of Haitians hoping for a better life for themselves and their families arrived in Del Rio, Texas. Migrants who came from Chile said conditions were uninhabitable, and experienced racism through Chilean society. Many migrants in Chile worked low-wage jobs, such as gas station workers and janitors, but some even worked more middle-income careers as bank tellers and welders. They came to the U.S. to seek broader opportunities, opportunities that would keep them and their families afloat. However, once these migrants reached the United States, they were surprised. 

Many imagined the U.S. as a place where people from all backgrounds are treated equally and could be successful, especially under newly-elected president Joe Biden, but this happened to be far from the truth. Migrants were subject to verbal and physical harassment, as well as denied the chance to claim asylum. They weren’t given opportunities to speak with immigration officials, who could help them be processed into the country and connected with sponsors, as many had friends or family residing in the U.S. already. 

Title 42, a policy that was implemented during the Trump Administration in response to the oncoming COVID-19 Pandemic in March 2020, gave permission to CBP and ICE to prevent migrants from seeking asylum under the excuse that the migrant could be a potential public health risk and/or spread contagious disease. While the threat of COVID-19 still exists, the first step the Biden Administration must take is to strike down this policy.

 President Biden promised migrants and immigrants change and a more humanitarian response when it comes to immigration from the Trump Administration.

 Nonetheless, deportations are at a 21-year high under the Biden Administration. Haitians are being deported back to a country marked by violence, poverty, and unrest. Haiti is a country that has an inspiring yet unfortunate history; it was the first country in the world to be founded by former slaves, yet it was colonized by the French and forced to pay 150 million francs (equivalent to approximately 21 billion U.S. dollars today) to make up for lost territory. It is a country that is wrung out by crisis after crisis after crisis. It is up to the United States to give Haitians a life that is filled with hope and opportunity.

A message I have for the Biden Administration is: Mr. President, Haitian Lives Matter too. module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article