U.S. immigration policies toward Haitians have long been racist, advocates say

But to some experts and advocates, the Biden administration’s treatment of Haidian immigrants is not surprising.

“When black asylum seekers or black immigrants face state power, be it local police on the street or (federal agents) … they face violent levels at various levels that we see happen to immigrants. They are not black,” said the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Nana Zamphi said.

For the rights of immigrants In recent weeks, federal government policies toward Haitian immigrants reinforce what supporters like Zamfi have long known: Haitians and other black immigrants are rented differently under the U.S. immigration system than non-black immigrants.

The Biden administration has admitted some Haitians but deported many others

There are many reasons why thousands of Haitians even make dangerous journeys to the United States.

Some fled their homeland for South America more than a decade ago, fleeing a devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed millions and initially displaced more than a million. Those who stayed saw them already destabilizing the struggling nation – since then, Haiti has never fully recovered.
This year, as the country battled a global epidemic and acute hunger crisis, the country’s president, Jovenel Moises, was assassinated in July. One month later, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake killed more than 2,000 Haitians and injured thousands more. The gang violence and poverty that Haitians faced has worsened.

The combined effects of that situation have led many Haitians to leave their homes in search of a better life.

To some extent, however, the U.S. government has acknowledged how dangerous the situation is in Haiti. Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced that an estimated 100,000 Haitians in the United States would be newly eligible to apply for temporary protected status, which would allow them to stay legally in their country for 18 months. But humanitarian protection only applies to those who are already in the United States until July 29.
In recent weeks, thousands of migrants – most of them Haitians – have gathered in a makeshift camp in Del Rio, Texas, where they were living in dire conditions in hopes of being processed by the U.S. immigration system. This wave of immigrants surprised U.S. immigration authorities, and officials began deportation flights to prevent more Haitians from coming to the border. Within a few days the camp was cleared.
Why thousands of Haitians gathered on the U.S.-Mexico border
Some immigrants were confirmed to have crossed the border and returned to Mexico, some were taken into federal custody and some were released into the United States. Others, however, were deported to Haiti without a chance to sue for asylum – forcing them to return to a more dangerous homeland than fleeing at first.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorcas cites three reasons for leaving immigrants in the United States instead of expelling them: they are determined to be vulnerable, such as someone pregnant; Weak operation capacity; Or the person may face torture if sent back. Those immigrants still have to complete the immigration process, where an immigration judge will ultimately determine whether they can stay in the United States or be deported.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

“The United States was able to evacuate 10 to 15,000 people (From the bottom of the Del Rio Bridge) in less than a week, “said Gerlin Joseph, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, an advocacy organization.” So if they have the desire to protect, they can do it. “

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection points to a recent remark by Myorcas, who said last week that images at the border “do not reflect who we are, who we want to be, or the integrity and value security of our truly heroic personnel in the Homeland Department.”

He added that the United States considers Haiti safe enough for migrants to return.

“We continue to study the situation in Haiti and, despite the tragic and devastating earthquake, we are determined that Haiti is actually capable of accepting people,” Mayorcas said at a White House press briefing on September 2. “And we are working with Haiti and humanitarian relief agencies to ensure that their return is as safe and humane as possible.”

The goal of the recent policy is to prevent Haitians from entering the United States

The U.S. government has implemented a number of policies in recent years to prevent immigrants from crossing the southern border. Many of these affect Haitians unequally.

The Biden administration is relying on a public health rule known as Title 42 to quickly remove migrants, including Haitians, who face the U.S.-Mexico border. Title 2, which was called for during the Trump administration, has been thoroughly scrutinized by immigration lawyers because it essentially prevents immigrants from seeking asylum in the United States.
Opinion: Anger at the American border
The Biden administration has argued that the rules are being introduced to protect the health of migrants, border workers and the local community, centered on the recent arrival of people at the border.
“We’re doing this for public health needs,” Mayorcas said at a Sept. 24 White House press briefing. “It’s not an immigration policy. It’s not an immigration policy that we will adopt.”
In September, a federal judge blocked the Biden administration from expelling immigrant families with children detained at the U.S.-Mexico border under a public health order, but put that decision on hold for two weeks. Meanwhile, the Biden administration appealed against it and an appellate court granted the administration’s request to stay the lower court’s order.
Prior to the title Before2, the U.S. government was pushing immigrants away through a process known as metering. In early 2016, those seeking asylum at the border were placed on a waiting list and told to stay in Mexico until it was their turn to begin the asylum process. According to the advocacy group American Immigration Council, Haitian asylum seekers were initially targeted and immigrants often had to wait years before their demands were heard.
According to a recent analysis by the Associated Press, when their cases are finally heard, Haitians are granted asylum at the lowest rate of any nationality.

Haitians and other black immigrants, including Jamaica, Liberia and Cameroon, also face inconsistent contacts with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, Zamphi said.

According to the nonprofit Rice in Texas, last year, other Haitian families were more consistently detained by the United States than any other nationality. The group also found that Haitians pay more bonds than other detained immigrants, which means they also stay longer in ICE facilities.
In addition, black immigrants face deportation on the basis of delinquency, about 20%, although they make up only 7% of the country’s non-citizen population, according to a 2016 report by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. This is despite the fact that there is no evidence that black immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than other groups.

“At the end of the day, it’s based on racial profiling – for the same reason we see African Americans being unequally arrested, charged with higher crimes, sentenced for long periods of time,” Giamfi said. “Everything applies to black immigrants.”

CNN reached out to the Department of Homeland Security for comment.

The US government’s treatment of Haitians is not new

The U.S. government has been discriminating against Haitian immigrants for decades, extending into both Republican and Democratic administrations, experts say.

Regin Jackson, an assistant professor of sociology and African studies at Agnes Scott College, explained that Haitians began coming to the United States after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 155, which abolished nationality-based quotas. Numbers 0 and these numbers continue to grow in the 80s.

The Haitians arrived in Miami in October 1979 aboard a crowded sailing boat.
Under the administration of President Jimmy Carter, Haitian immigrants were subject to special procedures that led to their detention and deportation quickly, often without adequate legal representation or translators. Although a federal judge would ultimately rule that process unconstitutional, Haitians continue to face sanctions and harsh treatment.

The way Haitians were treated, Jackson said, made a difference between refugees fleeing political persecution and generally eligible for asylum, and economic immigrants who are looking for better opportunities and generally ineligible for asylum.

The United States has stated that accepting Haitians as refugees would affect its diplomatic relations with the country’s anti-communist government, which was considered an ally. It thus classified Haitians as economic immigrants, although some were fleeing the violent rule of US-backed dictator Franোয়াois Duvalier.

“The term does not acknowledge how the political and economic situation – the root cause that leads to immigration – is intertwined,” Jackson said. “We still see the legacy of that difference today.”

Haitian refugees disembark from a U.S. Coast Guard ship in February 1992 after being deported from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Jackson compared the treatment of Haitian immigrants to the way Caribbean immigrants were treated with another group: Cubans.

In 1980, more than 100,000 Cubans and thousands of Haitians came ashore to seek refuge in the United States. But when Cubans were widely welcomed as political refugees and released into the United States, Haitians were detained for long periods or sent back to their home countries.

“It’s a difference about nationality, but it’s also a policy that was racially inspired,” Jackson added.

When President Ronald Reagan came into office In early 1981, he introduced a new detention policy and instructed the U.S. Coast Guard to intercept boats carrying Haitian asylum seekers before they reached the U.S. coast – the policies of the 1990s under George HW Bush and Bill Clinton.

The fear that Haitian migrants may have been infected with HIV / AIDS was also used as an argument for their detention.

Nevertheless, Haitians continue to come to the United States

Advocates say they have heard from Haitian immigrants that they want to live in a country where human rights are respected and where they and their children can be safe.

Although the reality is often different for them.

“As Americans, we sell a picture to the world that is not necessarily true,” Joseph said with the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

“People believe that the freedom and liberty they will be granted when they come to the United States as asylum seekers, refugees or in need of protection, will only be dealt with by violence and discrimination and black racism.”

Nonetheless, and what advocates say is a pattern of discriminatory treatment by the U.S. immigration authorities, many Haitians continue to travel to the United States.

CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this story.

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