Photos and video footage of Haitian migrants at the border getting whipped by Border Patrol have gone viral and now people are calling for reform and aid for the migrants. Last week NBC News reported that there were more than 10,000 migrants, mostly Haitian, living under an overpass bridge in Del Rio, Texas, located within a mile of the Rio Grande and the Mexican town of Ciudad Acuña. Most were living in South America and were then brought to Del Rio through a smuggling route in Mexico, the outlet reported. But it wasn’t until the images that went viral on Tuesday that people truly became aware of the magnitude of what was happening at the border. Haitians are still reeling from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August that killed more than 1000 people and the murder of their president Jovenel Moise in July. But the Caribbean nation, considered the poorest in the Western hemisphere, has long been suffering following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 as well as political corruption.
Gabrielle Apollon, the co-director of the Haiti Mining Justice and International Accountability Project, told USA Today that the increasing number of Haitians seeking asylum can also be attributed to “staggering increase in human rights violations” in the past decade. But now with the photos and video footage emerging did the plight of thousands of Haitians get the spotlight.
“The US government showed a total disregard for the right to seek asylum when it sent agents on horseback with reins flailing to control and deter this largely Black migrant population,” said Alison Parker, US managing director at Human Rights Watch. “This violent treatment of Haitians at the border is just the latest example of racially discriminatory, abusive, and illegal US border policies that are returning people to harm and humanitarian disaster.” The White House condemned the use of horse reins to whip the migrants and pledged to conduct an investigation, CBS reported. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a brief on Monday that “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”
The first three flights arrived in Haiti on Sunday returning 327 migrants, according to a U.S. officials, Reuters reported. This is after U.S. authorities moved 3,300 migrants since Friday, Sept. 17 from Del Rio,Texas with a daily flight schedule to Port-au-Prince. They are being returned to Haiti under a U.S. policy known as Title 42 (enacted by Trump), which singles out asylum seekers crossing into the U.S. at land borders who are often Black, Indigenous, and Latinx. “The expulsions are purportedly on public health grounds, but are discriminatory and abusive. By contrast, thousands of other travelers are able to enter the U.S.,” HRW said.
“The use of Title 42 follows a long, tragic, and sordid history of the US government interdicting and summarily returning Haitian migrants and asylum seekers,” Parker said. “Instead of continuing harsh, racially discriminatory, and illegal policies directed against a group of people who are overwhelmingly Black, the Biden administration should unequivocally break with this history and ensure equal treatment for all.”
How to help:
You can support organizations like the Haitian Bridge Alliance, Black Freedom Factory, and Houston Haitians United by volunteering, sharing their info on your social platforms, and donating goods and/or money. You can also call on President Biden and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to stop the deportations of Haitian asylum seekers.