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.