Since the 1970s, Haitians have sought asylum at U.S. borders. Since the 1970s, the U.S. presidential administrations have rejected Haitian asylum claims. Plus, Uncle Sam has held our Haitian sisters and brothers longer in detention. At the beginning of the 1990s, over 12,000 Haitian refugees found themselves detained at Guantanamo for an indefinite period. The U.S. denied the vast majority denied asylum. Now, 30 some years later, 14,000 migrants, most of them Haitians, who are seeking asylum and employment in the U.S. are being turned away.
They camped out in filthy conditions in the town of Del Rio, Texas. Mainly Haitians, a small number of Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans were in the mix. Del Rio, a town of 35,000 people surrounded by ranch lands, is 130 miles west of San Antonio. These refugees found themselves fenced in beneath a bridge over the Rio Grande that connects Del Rio with Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Many Haitians have exited Haiti over the last decade seeking work in Latin America. The numbers drastically declined during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their native country remains in a continuing worldwide economic and social crisis brought on by the U.S. Only a month ago, an earthquake killed, injured and devastated thousands of Haitians. Years of political instability continue to rock this once proud country— the first to end slavery in the western world in 1804 through a successful slave revolt. The assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July this year is the latest episode. Haitians numbering in the thousands remain at the U.S. border.
The U.S. provided only an insufficient amount of needed clean water, food and portable toilets. When these U.S. deportation flights began, growing crowds of men, women, and children walked back through the Rio Grande to Mexico to avoid deportation to Haiti. President Biden’s administration has now increased its move to deport thousands back to Haiti. Flights began on September 19. The deportations are taking place before the Haitians possess any opportunity to apply for asylum. Former President Trump, through a COVID-19 executive order, first put in place this order. It continues to rob them of any right to seek asylum. According to the United Nations, the 1951 Refugee Convention “recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries.” The document specifies that countries maintain an obligation to provide reasonable measures to allow individuals to seek asylum. Demand asylum for Haitians and join the growing chorus for a world without borders.
Dr. Morgan is a former Assistant Professor at Coppin State University, internationalist, and black rights, activist. Reach him at [email protected]