Miami, Sep. 22, 2021 – Auguste Alexandre voted for Joe Biden and encouraged other Haitian-Americans to vote for him in 2020, thinking Biden would’ve halted removal flights to Haiti. But the opposite is happening. The United States has been sending Haitian migrants camping near the US-Mexico border back to Haiti since Sunday under Biden’s watch.
“I supported Biden, I did everything I could for him to become president, now it’s the same Joe Biden who’s kicking us out when we helped him enter office,” said Alexandre as he stood near the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Miami Wednesday. “That makes me really mad.”
Alexandre, 50, is the president of the Haitian-American Pharmacist Association. Near him, stood about 150 other people who came near the immigration office for one goal: to ask the Biden Administration to stop sending Haitians back to Haiti. It was one of the first rallies and press conferences held in Miami concerning the Haitian migrants in South Texas.
Thousands of Haitian migrants from Chile, Brazil and other Latin American countries arrived in the U.S., camping in the border down of Del Rio, Texas to seek asylum. Some migrants were released earlier this week to relatives or friends in the U.S. while waiting for asylum hearings. As of Tuesday 8,600 migrants were left, according to AP.
However, Haitian-Americans, among others, want to see the deportations end — especially after border patrol agents on horseback were caught on camera whipping migrants.
The images prompted demonstrators to carry placards at the Miami rally that read, “Same struggle, same fight. 500 years of resistance!”, “Justice for all people and more.” Organized by Family Action Network Movement (FANM), demonstrators at the rally held between Little River and Northwest 91st Street also shouted in harmony to ask Biden to end the removal flights.
“I know we’re all angry and I think that anger has to be expressed to the White House,” said Gepsie Metellus, Sant La’s executive director. “If you want to help, please make that call.”
The rally drew residents of a variety of nationalities, including 40 members of the Circle of Brotherhood, an organization of Black men involved in community uplifting work.
With about 533,000 people of Haitian descent living in Florida, some demonstrators felt that more Haitian-Americans should’ve attended the rally.
“We’re not seeing the Haitians, where are they,” asked Michel Bien-Aimé, a home maintenance worker from Little Haiti. “This is huge, we’re getting humiliated. We’re in a position to help ourselves but don’t want to do the little bit.”
Several other Haitian-Americans at the rally were in favor of the deportations.
“The people need to go back and do it the right way,” said Eli-El Lassin, 20, while sitting on his bicycle. “They [those who were released] got lucky, it wasn’t the right move. It’s illegal, it’s unfair to everyone who came here legally.”
Others said that sending the migrants to family members or friends isn’t enough.
“We’re not satisfied with that,” said Bien-Aimé, 68. “They have to give them papers so they can live normally.”
Many migrants released don’t have enough money to take care of their basic needs like shelter and hygiene. Broward Commissioner Dale Holness, who spoke at the rally, pledged to donate to the Haitian Lawyers Association to “ensure that these refugees have due process.”
Rallier Leroy Jones brought up the historical contribution of Haitian soldiers who helped Americans fight British forces in Savannah, Georgia in 1779.
“They were probably the most recognized people of color that fought in the war in Savannah,” said Jones, 58, leader of the Circle of Brotherhood. “We stand with them and want them to be treated just like any other person that comes here seeking a better life.”
Activists urged attendees to sign a change.org petition asking Biden to end the removal flights. About 1,400 people have signed the petition so far, among them Moncy Lewis. The Homestead resident held a placard that read: “Sign the petition @ Change.org. We demand policy change.”
“This is to pressure them [the government],” Lewis said. “The government is supposed to be working for the people, that’s why they’re in place, for the people. So when they see that it’s the people who are demanding a policy change, they have to change the policy.”