The White House will be hard-pressed to explain or defend such treatment of human beings whose only offense was to seek refuge in America, as so many have done, after fleeing a country torn by political violence and natural disasters.
Joe Biden’s administration is making things worse by refusing to process these asylum seekers, instead herding hundreds of them onto planes and back into harm’s way in Haiti.
Their presence in Del Rio is not only legal, it is perfectly understandable. As anyone who follows the news already knows, Haiti, our neighbor, is in extreme turmoil. The suffering nation has endured a presidential assassination and a major earthquake within just the past three months — this in addition to a devastating earthquake in 2010, as well as ongoing and grinding poverty, gang violence and political strife.
Anti-immigrant extremists have politicized an issue that should be purely humanitarian. The former Donald Trump adviser Stephen Miller and his ilk made their political fortunes by dividing Americans and causing them to fear immigrants, especially Black immigrants.
I should know: my organization, UndocuBlack, came into being just before Trump was elected President, and my colleagues and I watched how anti-Blackness and xenophobia permeated the conservative end of the political spectrum and poisoned the national dialogue in the last four years.
We had hoped the new administration would forcefully reject the politics of hate. But it has been cowed into adopting some of the policies that Biden’s predecessor used to keep people out.
Maybe the appalling images of Border Patrol officers on horseback will arouse the same ire as those of children in cages during Trump’s presidency. But I fear that Biden will be given a pass, that he will get the benefit of the doubt because vulnerable communities still need so much from him.
The Biden administration could have made a strong statement in favor of due process and dignity by allowing for an orderly asylum process. Instead, it has opted for mass expulsions of vulnerable people.
Last fall, I used my voice to mobilize my community members to reject the politics of division. We were told that the Biden administration would work toward racial healing and bring forth a new era of inclusivity for immigrants. Instead, we are getting the same old anti-Blackness, cruelty and dysfunction. This was not the mandate the Biden administration was given. The administration has the tools to do the right thing. They should use them.