By William Jr. Pierre-Louis
When it comes to refugees, international guidelines clearly state that every person has the right to present themselves at any border to seek asylum. Article 31 of the 1951 Vienna Convention and the 1967 Protocol specifically provides the humanitarian right to people who travel directly from a territory where their life or freedom is threatened. Still, it has always been nearly impossible for Black and brown refugees to be granted asylum.
Such a disconnect is why America must create new immigration policies that take into account America’s historical role in destabilizing countries like Haiti. A role that has led so many Haitians to end up at America’s borders.
Graphic images of Haitians being hunted at the US-Mexico border show how poorly refugees of color are treated. These images serve as a reminder that black and brown refugees will never be treated equally when compared to other ethnicities. Haitians — and other refugees of color — will never be given a fair chance to claim asylum in today’s America.
Nothing is new here. The United States of America has never missed an opportunity to confront or abuse Haitian refugees. In 1978, many Haitians tried to leave Baby Doc’s Haiti as the economy began to collapse and political turmoil started getting out of hand. Many took a perilous route through other Caribbean nations in an attempt to make it to the U.S. by sea. U.S. officials blocked them from landing in Florida. The Haitians who made it were detained in jails under terrible conditions, their asylum claims were summarily rejected and they were sent back to Haiti.
Today, we see the same pattern: U.S. Border Patrol Agents on horseback hunting Haitian asylum seekers with whips, as though we were still living in slavery. Knowing the agency already has an ugly and violent history towards communities of color, President Biden sent 400 agents to the Del Rio Port of Entry to “improve control of the area.”
The US government’s historic relationship with Haiti explains why Haitians were treated at the border as if they were animals. America’s foreign policy towards Haiti has partly created the humanitarian crisis we are witnessing today. The United States’ complicit ties to incompetent, and corrupted Haitian politicians has brought this upon them.
In the past 10 years, the support that the U.S. has provided to the PHTK political regime has played a significant role in the country’s current situation. From Michel Martelly to Jovenel Moise, America has sided with a decade of corruption and wrongdoings led by two of the most controversial and corrupted presidents Haiti has ever known.
In the last year, Donald Trump instituted Title 42 to keep out people of color.
What does all this mean for the U.S. as a country? America can either take responsibility for the border crisis or deny its contribution to what Haiti has experienced over the past 100 years.
Now, it is time for accountability! It is time for the Biden Administration to define clear immigration policies that no longer target refugees of color.
These Haitians, after all, are human beings trying to escape the ongoing oppression they face from corrupted politicians in Haiti and racism from the international community. They deserve to be welcomed by the country that has facilitated so much turmoil in their home country.
William Jr. Pierre-Louis is a political opinion writer focusing on social issues, political matters and the diplomatic evolutions between nations, and international or regional organizations.