National, California Groups Condemn Biden Administration Abusive Treatment of Black Haitian Migrants, Demand End to Deportations

Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

By Crescenzo Vellucci
The Vanguard Bureau Chief

DEL RIO, TX – Immigrant rights and hundreds of other social justice groups Wednesday issued a series of statements condemning the “horrifying treatment” of Haitian migrants by the U.S. at the border – a stark reminder of the Trump Administration’s unthinkable action against children just a few short year ago.

“We denounce in the strongest possible terms the reprehensible and cruel treatment of Haitian refugees by the Biden administration. We call on the administration to immediately stop all deportations and grant humanitarian parole and the opportunity to claim asylum,” said the Immigrant Defense Project.

The Dignity Not Detention (DND) coalition, 17 California organizations composed of organizers, communications experts, attorneys, and formerly incarcerated leaders fighting immigrant detention at the state level, was direct as well about the treatment of Haitians.

“The glimmer of hope many progressives envisioned with the Biden administration has now evaporated. Images of the administration’s horrific abuse against Black Haitian asylum seekers in Del Rio, Texas dominate social media feeds and the news cycle,” the coalition wrote.

“The horrifying images of aggressive Border Patrol agents, including the sickening image of horse-mounted border patrol agents abusing Haitian migrants and the apparent use of whips, evoke the violent, white supremacist roots of policing in the U.S. The racism and cruelty embedded in the U.S. immigration system can neither be ignored nor tolerated,” IDP added.

“Top Biden administration officials are calling these images ‘obviously horrific, ‘horrible’ and claiming it ‘defies all of the values we seek to instill’ even as they orchestrate the mass deportation of the very refugees they are abusing. Actions speak louder than words, and this administration’s actions are roaring,” said IDP in a statement.

“It is unconscionable for the Biden administration to send human beings back to danger and the risk of death. The U.S. has long played a role in destabilizing Haiti and it is unacceptable for the federal government to deport Haitians seeking freedom and stability. This is particularly shameful in the wake of a series of crises in Haiti including the assassination of Haiti’s president, ongoing food insecurity, and the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake,” added IDP.

Meanwhile, a group of U.S. civil rights and social justice groups. led by Black leaders, expressed its “grave concerns about the treatment of Black Haitian migrants at the US-Mexico Border. We are hard-pressed in the year 2021 to find more horrific, traumatizing and blatantly racist images than those coming out of the Del Rio area.”

“White (and white-presenting) men on horseback with lariats are seen chasing, yelling and cursing at vulnerable Black asylum seekers who have for weeks and months been fleeing toward what they thought was safety. The actions of these Border Patrol officers are disgraceful and show an indifference to the humanity of Black migrants,” the group wrote.

“This crisis requires more from our nation. The decision to begin forcing Haitians onto planes to ‘return them home,’ the very place that they were fleeing from, is inhumane. After admitting that Haiti was indeed a place too dangerous for these immigrants to return to…we would have expected a dramatically different approach to this crisis. In fact, since that time conditions in Haiti have deteriorated with the assassination of President Jovenel and the earthquake in August that killed more than 2,200 people.”

The group, including the NAACP, Urban League and a host of Black legal support and related representatives, chided the Biden Administration.

“Your commitment to racial equity must extend to the treatment of immigrants…we urge you to stop the deportations and immediately grant humanitarian parole to the thousands of Black asylum seekers and process their asylum claims without further delay. We also urge you to launch an investigation into the acts of Border Patrol agents in Del Rio and cease and desist the treatment we witnessed, instead employing a humanitarian approach to the crisis,” the group said.

IDP agreed, adding, “We support demands advanced by Black-led immigrant rights organizations who have been organizing for many years to challenge anti-Blackness in the U.S. immigration system. We call upon the Biden administration to stop all deportations and grant humanitarian parole to Haitians seeking protections, and we support the call from Rep. Clarke (NY-09) and other members of Congress for a ‘humanitarian moratorium’ on deportation flights to Haiti.”

IDP added the federal government should “provide humanitarian assistance to Haitians in Del Rio awaiting an opportunity to request protection, and terminate the Trump-era ‘Title 42’ policy which has led to expulsions of hundreds of thousands of people, with particular harm to Black migrants.”

Dignity Not Detention Coalition directly attacked President Biden and his administration.

“(A)ctions by President Biden and his administration have all built up to the violence and mistreatment Black asylum seekers are experiencing today. Rather than upholding core values, the administration has shamelessly given in to the vitriol spewed by southern Republicans, led by Governor Abbot of Texas.

“We at the Dignity Not Detention Coalition stand in solidarity with the Haitian Bridge Alliance, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, UndocuBlack Network, the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project and many other Black migrant led organizations in denouncing the inherent anti-Blackness happening in Del Rio.

“(We) demand all deportation flights to Haiti and other Black countries to stop immediately, especially in light of the combined political, environmental, and public health crises happening in Haiti…we also demand that the Biden administration grant Haitians seeking asylum humanitarian parole.

“People must be processed outside of cages—where they can have access to community resources and legal counsel.  In addition, we demand that the administration terminate the Trump-era ‘Title 42’ policy which has led to disproportionate expulsions of Black migrants,” said DND.

The coalition charged the “core of this issue is the inherent anti-Blackness that defines the immigration system. Anything from the high number of expedited deportations of Haitians, to the violence on display at the border showcase what Black-led immigrant rights organizations have been bringing to light for many years. Truth is, this anti-Blackness also leaks into the detention apparatus, as Black immigrants report disproportionate mistreatment while detained.

“It’s a stab in the wound for the administration to consider utilizing Guantanamo Bay as a detention facility for these migrants, given that the immigration detention system in the U.S. began with a cruel decision to incarcerate Haitians fleeing a regressive regime just a few decades ago.

“Already, communities across the country are coming together to support migrants and refugees on the ground. Our communities are committed and equipped to guide Haitian asylum seekers through the immigration system, and demand they be allowed to do so in a humanitarian way,” the coalition added.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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    1. David Greenwald

      but of course they were used as whips

      This is from the FOP: “For all you Twitter warriors out there: these are NOT whips. And no, Border Patrol agents are NOT “whipping” people. They are REINS… Stay with us here, like a steering wheel is used to drive a car, the reins are used to “drive” the horse.”

      Except of course that the “reins” were being used not on the horses but the people as well.

      1. Keith Olsen

        Border agent pictures are latest example of media whipping things into a frenzy
        Images of border patrol agents pursuing Haitian migrants on horseback this week sparked a media furor when reporters mistakenly claimed the agents were using whips to subdue the migrants.

        But the media’s fixation on photos that don’t actually portray wrongdoing is just the latest example of reporters whipping up outrage over narratives that later prove to be misleading or downright false.


      2. Keith Olsen

        Still waiting for proof, everything I’ve read said the border agents at no time whipped the migrants.

        Though if you still want to go with it I guess we can say that Biden and his Democrat administration whip black people at the border like slaves.

        Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, said Wednesday that the border agents on horseback swinging their reins as they sought to block Haitian migrants from entering an encampment was “worse than what we witnessed in slavery.”
        Ms. Waters, speaking at a Wednesday press conference outside the Capitol, accused agents of “whipping” the would-be border-crossers in Del Rio, Texas, a narrative that has been increasingly disputed.
        “What we witnessed takes us back hundreds of years,” Ms. Waters said. “What we witnessed was worse than what we witnessed in slavery: cowboys with their reins, again, whipping Black people, Haitians, into the water, where they’re scrambling and falling down, and all they’re trying to do is escape from violence in their country.”

  1. Ron Oertel

    Democrats (in particular) have no clear policy regarding illegal immigration.  That’s a big reason that Trump won.

    Democrats have been trying to shove-through a citizenship bill, tied to financing the federal government.  It’s failed, so far.

    Images like this are ugly, but I doubt that they’re broadly effective in the manner hoped-for – by some. The images of tens of thousands of refugees under a bridge are ugly as well, but one might “point the finger” at the lack of clear policy regarding the reason for it. Same with the people dying in the desert, or smugglers dropping kids over border walls, drowning when their boat capsizes, etc.

    I haven’t looked into how Haitian refugees got to South America in the first place.

    It’s welll-past time to “re-think” what America can, or should be in regard to immigration (both legal, and illegal).

    1. David Greenwald

      There are different wings of the Democratic party at play here.  Progressives are generally disappointed that Biden has not come out with more coherent reform guidelines.

      1. Ron Oertel

        What (exactly) are the Progressive reform guidelines?

        In other words, what do they propose to do when immigrants continue to show up at the border?

        I’m looking for a somewhat detailed response.  (I assume that you consider yourself a Progressive, and can speak on “their” behalf.)

        Also, is there a “model nation” that they look toward, in regard to their suggested guidelines? If so, how is that working out for that country? (With the understanding that no two nations are all that similar regarding shared borders, disparities with neighboring countries, etc.)

        1. David Greenwald

          “Progressive Democrats in Congress are calling for President-elect Joe Biden to dismantle the federal government’s deportation machine, broaden immigrants’ access to social safety net programs, and rely far less on detention to ensure that immigrants show up for court hearings.”

        2. Ron Oertel

          Pretty much what I thought:  An “open door” policy, for whoever shows up. Eventually, with a path toward U.S. citizenship.

          Can you imagine what would happen if that policy was actually adopted? Even oceans would not be a barrier, anymore (as is the case with the Haitians showing up).

          Actually, it’s “sort of” that way now, for some.

          But one party (in particular) doesn’t want to acknowledge their de-facto policy.

  2. Alan Miller

    WTF?  Someone posted here about the Styrofoam containers in bags – ‘no takeout at the border’ and said the picture was staged.  I looked at several pictures of the scene, and lots of people had Styrofoam ‘doggie bags’ in clear plastic bags.  Some appeared to be crossing the river with these.  Why I have no idea, since the contents would easily spill.  But the pictures don’t appear staged.  But the comment is gone too and I don’t remember who said it.  But anyway the AP reports that the whip thing can’t be confirmed.

  3. Keith Olson

    Get ready.  The Biden Administration is preparing to pay $450,000 per illegal that were separated at the border and held in detention.

    The Biden administration is considering issuing payments to immigrant families that were separated at the southern border under the Trump administration around $450,000 a person in compensation, for a total payout that could cost the government more than $1 billion, according to a new report.

  4. Bill Marshall

    Isn’t morality enforcing the immigration laws of our country?
    Isn’t morality obeying the immigration laws of our country?

    Isn’t morality subjective rather than absolute? [I think yes, almost always (double entendre there)]

    Do you consider yourself as someone who has ‘moral’ views and acts upon them?  [your call, your parameters]

    Do you believe asking rhetorical questions is moral?  [your call, your parameters]

    Do you believe asking rhetorical questions are productive in public discourse to actually ‘move the football to a better position’? [I believe seldom… but sometimes…]

    And, under what laws did your ancestors immigrate? [Rhetorical? Moral?]


  5. Keith Olson

    [Moderator: comment removed. If you have an opinion on a topic, state it in your own words. Provide evidence or support for that opinion in your own words. This is not a venue for you to just post links to other sites. If your link supports your stated opinion and the evidence you provide for your analysis, fine.]

  6. Keith Olson

    In my OPINION, the message of shelling out $450,000 each to immigrant families will lead to an even bigger problem on the border as the world’s immigrants will think they can get rich quick coming to the U.S. even if that’s not the case.  Here is part of a letter that the GOP sent to Biden’s cabinet:

    “The rationale for this egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars is to compensate these persons for ‘lasting psychological trauma,’” the lawmakers wrote in the letter obtained by Fox News. “Do, however, note that these persons crossed into our country in a knowingly illegal manner, fully aware of the consequences of violating our rule of law.”
    “Promising tens of thousands of dollars to those who unlawfully entered the United States would not only reward criminal behavior, but it would surely send a message to the world that our borders are open and our rule of law will not be enforced,” the letter also reads.

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