U.S. immigration policy has long been racist towards Haitians, lawyers say

But for some experts and lawyers, the Biden administration’s treatment of Haitian immigrants is not surprising.

“When black asylum seekers or black immigrants face state power, be it local police on the streets or (federal agents) … we deal with immigrants on a different level than what happens to immigrants. They are not black,” Black Alliance for Nana Gamphy, executive director of Just Immigration, said.

For immigrant rights Advocates like Gyamfi say the federal government’s policies on Haitian immigrants in recent weeks reinforce what they have known for a long time: Haiti and other black immigrants travel differently in the American immigration system than non-black immigrants.

The Biden administration has granted access to some Haitians but deported many others

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

Some left their country for South America more than a decade ago, a Catastrophic earthquake In 2010 which killed hundreds of thousands of people and initially displaced more than a million. Those who stopped saw their already struggling nations becoming more unstable – since then, Haiti has never fully recovered.
This year, the country faced a global epidemic and severity The crisis of starvation, The country’s president was Jovenel Moise Murdered In July. A month later, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake More than 2,000 Haitians were killed and thousands injured. Gang violence and poverty that Haitians were already facing Even worse.

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

To some extent, the U.S. government has acknowledged how dangerous the situation is in Haiti. Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced that A.M. Approximately 100,000 Haiti Will be new eligible to apply in the US Temporary protected status, Which will allow them to stay legal in the country for 18 months. But humanitarian protections already apply only in the United States July 29.
In recent weeks, Thousands of migrants – Most of them gathered at Haitian-A Temporary bottom In Del Rio, Texas, where he was living in dire straits in hopes of being processed on the American immigration system. This wave of immigrants surprised American immigration officials, and officials began Extending deportation flights To prevent more Haitians from coming to the border. Within a few days, the camp was empty.
Thousands of Haitians gathered on the U.S.-Mexico border
Some immigrants were convinced to cross the border and return to Mexico, some were taken into federal custody, and some were released into the United States. Others, however, were Haiti was deported Forced to return home – without a chance to sue for asylum More dangerous Than initially fleeing.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorcas outlined three reasons why immigrants could be left in the United States instead of being expelled: they are determined to be unsafe, such as someone pregnant; Operational capacity is strained; Or sending that person back could lead to harassment. Those immigrants still have to complete immigration procedures, where immigration judges will ultimately decide whether they can stay in the United States or be deported.

Lawyers, however, argue that Approximately 4,600 Haitians Those who have been deported from the United States in recent weeks should be allowed to live and seek asylum under federal and international law.

“The United States was able to evacuate 10 to 15,000 people (Under the Del Rio bridge) in less than a week, “said Gurline Joseph, executive director of the Hattian Bridge Alliance.” So if they want to protect them, they can. “

Attracted to US Customs and Border Protection Recent Comments “It doesn’t reflect who we are, who we want to be, or the integrity and values ​​of our true heroic soldiers in the Department of Homeland Security,” said Miorkas, who said the images at the border last week.

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

“We continue to study the situation in Haiti and, despite the tragic and devastating earthquake, we have determined that Haiti is actually capable of receiving individuals,” Mayorcas said at the White House’s Sept. 24 press briefing. “And we are working with Haiti and humanitarian aid organizations to make their return as safe and humane as possible.”

Recent policies have aimed to prevent Haitians from entering the United States

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

The Biden administration is known to rely on public health regulations Title 42, To expedite the evacuation of migrants, including Haitians, on the U.S.-Mexico border. Title 42, enacted during the Trump administration, has come under intense scrutiny from immigration lawyers because it largely prevents immigrants from seeking asylum in the United States.
Opinion: Anger at the US border
Biden administration Has argued The rule is being enforced to protect the health of migrants, border staff and the local community in view of the recent influx of people across the border.
“We’re doing this for public health needs,” Myorcas said September 24 White House press briefing. “This is not an immigration policy. This is not an immigration policy that we will accept.”
In September, a federal judge barred the Biden administration from evicting migrant families, including children, detained at the U.S.-Mexico border under a public health order, but suspended that decision for two weeks. Meanwhile, the Biden administration appealed and the Court of Appeal Approved Administration’s request to stay the lower court’s order.
Prior to Title 42, the U.S. government was eliminating immigrants through a process Metering. Since early 2016, asylum seekers at the border have been placed on a waiting list and told to stay in Mexico until it is their turn to begin the asylum process. Metering Targeted mainly Haitian asylum seekers, According to the advocacy group American Immigration Council, And immigrants were often Made me wait years Before hearing their claims.
When their cases are finally heard, Haitians are granted asylum at the lowest rate of any nationality for whom data is available, according to A recent analysis of the Associated Press.

Hetians and other black immigrants, including Jamaica, Liberia and Cameroon, face unequal contact with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, Gamphi says.

Last year, the United States consistently held more Haitian families than any other nationality, according to Texas No Profit. Estate. The group also found that Haitians paid more in bonds than other detainees, meaning they lived longer in ICE facilities.
In addition, about 20% of those facing deportation for criminal reasons are black immigrants, although they make up only 7% of the country’s non-citizen population, according to a 2016 report. Black Alliance for Just Immigration. This is despite the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that black immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than other groups.

“At the end of the day, it’s based on racial profiling – African Americans arrested for inequality, they are charged with high crimes, we find that they have been sentenced for long periods of time,” Gamphy said. “This applies to all black immigrants.”

CNN has contacted the Department of Homeland Security for comment.

The US government’s treatment of Haitians is not new

The U.S. government’s discriminatory treatment of Haitian immigrants has spread to both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Regin Jackson, an associate professor of sociology and African studies at Agnes Scott College, explained that after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, large numbers of Haitians began to come to the United States. This number continued to grow in the 70’s and 80’s.

October 1.  In In Haiti, the Haitians arrived in Miami in a crowded sailboat.
Under President Jimmy Carter’s administration, Were subject to Haitian immigrants Special procedure Who saw them Captured and expedited for deportation, Without adequate legal representation or translators. Although a federal judge ultimately ruled the process unconstitutional, Haitians faced restrictions and harsh treatment.

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

America Took place That accepting Haiti as a refugee would affect the country’s political relations with the anti-communist government Considered a colleague. So while some have escaped the violent regime of the American-backed dictator, he has classified Haitians as economic immigrants. Francois Duvalier.

Jackson said, “This position does not acknowledge that the political and economic conditions – the root causes of migration – are intertwined.” “We still inherit that distinction today.”

After being deported from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in February 1992, the Haitian refugees disembarked from a U.S. Coast Guard ship.

Jackson compared the treatment of Haitian migrants to the way it was compared to another group of Caribbean migrants: Cubans.

In 1980, more than 100,000 Cubans and thousands of Haitians Came to the shores of America Seeking refuge. But while Cubans were widely welcomed as political refugees and released into the United States, Haitians were long detained or repatriated, she said.

“It’s a distinction of nationality, but it’s also a policy that is ethnically motivated,” Jackson added.

When President Ronald Reagan took office In early 1-11, they formulated a new detention policy and instructed the US Coast Guard to intercept boats carrying Haitian asylum seekers before they reached the US coast. Will continue into the 90s George HW Bush and Bill Clinton.

Fear of HIV / AIDS infection among Haitian migrants was used to justify their arrest.

Still, Haitians keep coming to America

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

For them, however, the reality is often different.

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

“People in the United States, asylum seekers, as refugees, or in need of protection, only believe in the freedom and liberty that is granted to them if they are met by violence and discrimination and black racism.”

Despite this, and what lawyers say is a pattern of discriminatory treatment by U.S. immigration officials, many Haitians continue to travel to the United States.

CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to the story.


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