For many of our residents, the images of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers on horseback appearing to use reins to whip Black Haitian immigrants at the border was a triggering reminder of our nation’s racist history and its centuries of maltreatment for people of color.
The videos and photos were horrific, but this is not the first time Haitian asylum seekers in the U.S. have been met with racism and discrimination.
Instead, the violence and targeting that we saw at the southern border exposes the deeply rooted culture of anti-Blackness and extremist thinking within our immigration system that is leading to intolerable human rights abuses.
Let’s be clear: These brave Haitian refugees have a legal right to seek asylum in our country, just as all who are fleeing violence and oppression do. Black Haitians deserve to be treated with human dignity and respect. However, right now, Black asylum seekers at our border are being met with violence and deportation back to a crisis-stricken country.
Congress must conduct rigorous oversight over the CBP, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other law enforcement agencies. That is the responsibility and duty of the legislative branch. When we witness agencies refuse to comply with the law and treat migrants with human dignity — like we’re seeing right now — Congress cannot sit on the sidelines. We must hold these agencies accountable if they fail to regulate themselves. Our failure to address and enact meaningful change in their culture only worsens the problem and gives them permission to commit these shameful acts that will create further intergenerational trauma.
The horrendous images from this past week will be yet another stain on our nation’s history and are yet another symbol of our broken immigration policies. We should not be turning our backs on those who need our help; instead we should be reaching out in their time of greatest need. How we show up in response to Black Haitian asylum seekers at our border will set the precedent for who we are and the morals we hold as a country. We must show compassion.
When we say Black Lives Matter, it’s not just Black Americans; it is Black lives around the world. The Biden Administration must shift course and move away from the anti-Black agenda of the previous administration.
President Joe Biden committed to advancing racial equity throughout the entire administration. Now is the time to stop the deportations and provide a safe haven for Haitians on our shores. America can and must do better than this.
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