Haitians are Still Dying in Their Search for Survival

Haitians are Still Dying in Their Search for Survival

Members of Black Lives Matter protest outside Federal Building to denounce the segregationist immigration policies of the Biden administration, Tuesday, Step. 21, 2021 in Los Angeles. (Shutterstock)

By America’s Voice

With the recent commemoration of Juneteenth on Sunday, June 19 (observed as a federal holiday on Monday, June 20) and the observance of World Refugee Day on Monday June 20, the lack of accountability and support for Haitian migrants fleeing dangerous in-country conditions is coming into full focus. Multiple incidents of mistreatment highlight the callousness and racism of border patrol agents, who have largely not been held accountable for the harm inflicted on Haitian migrants:

Last fall, images surfaced of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing Haitian migrants returning with food to a camp at the border. Now, an unofficial commemorative coin has surfaced, depicting the mistreatment of Haitians in Del Rio, TX. Text on the coin reads, “You will not be returned”, and “Yesterday’s border is not today’s border.” Though Customs and Border Protection has announced they will investigate the origins of the coin, the results of the investigation on the original mistreatment of migrants has still not been made public.

In an article for the LA Times, For Haitian migrants, waiting in Tijuana brings fear, discrimination, even death, Kate Morrisey reports on the dangerous conditions at the U.S.- Mexico Border. Deaths at the border have become all too common, “usually either caused by violent attacks during a robbery or rejection by hospitals and clinics when Haitians attempt to seek medical care.” Racist attitudes on both sides of the border mean that refugees rarely have access to the conditions, care and facilities they need to safely make their journey.

In an investigative piece spanning 8 months, US-expelled Haitians fuel charter business to Latin America, the Associated Press reports that Haitians are driving a boom in charter flights: “From November 2020 until this May, at least 128 charters were rented by travel agencies in Chile and Brazil for flights from Haiti…Since taking office in January 2021, the Biden administration has sent more than 25,000 Haitians back to Haiti despite warnings from human rights groups that the expulsions would only contribute to Haiti’s travails and feed more Haitian migration to Latin America and the U.S…Dan Foote, a former U.S. envoy to Haiti who resigned over the Biden administration’s handling of Haitians at the Texas border, said he is not surprised to hear Haitians expelled from the U.S. are making their way back to South America, and that businesses are lining up to help them. ‘Until the root causes of instability are truly attacked in a patient, systematic, holistic way, it’s going to keep going,’ Foote said.”

In May, at least 11 Haitians were killed when a boat capsized near Puerto Rico. As more Haitians seek survival and flee their country due to worsening gang violence, political instability, poverty, and the impacts of the climate crisis and natural disasters, and as conditions and discrimination at the border worsen, more migrants are opting to attempt dangerous water passages to the United States.

Guerline Josef, President of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, participated in a funeral service for those killed, and tweeted, “Today we pay honor to the Haitian migrants who lost their lives in search of ‘LIFE’ off the coast of Puerto Rico. 11 young women and countless others who were not found. I’m tired of burying my compatriots.”

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communications for America’s Voice: “The urgent need for the U.S. to welcome with dignity those seeking safety has never been clearer. Yet, as we commemorate Juneteenth and World Refugee Day, it is obvious that racism, xenophobia and apathy are contributing to continued loss of life and deprivation for refugees around the world and those fleeing Haiti in particular. As our colleague Guerline Jozef of the Haitian Bridge Alliance put it in a tweet after the funerals for 11 lives lost off the coast of Puerto Rico, ‘I’m tired of burying my compatriots.’ The Biden administration, the Congress and the American people can do more to protect the lives of those seeking survival and opportunity, we just need to summon the will to do so.”

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