On Monday, photos from the U.S.-Mexico border surfaced that showed border patrol officers riding around on horseback swinging whips at Haitian migrants who were attempting to flee back over the Rio Grande into Mexico to avoid being deported by the U.S. government. An Al Jazeera video captured one officer yelling “this is why your country’s shit, because you use your women for this,” at a group of Haitian women carrying food across the Rio Grande. The photos from Del Rio, Texas immediately conjure up images of slavecatchers, illustrating the horrifying and brutal violence that Haitian migrants seeking asylum are being subjected to by the Biden White House.
Haiti has dealt with a significant amount of instability and upheaval in recent months—not only was the Haitian president, Jovenel Moise, assassinated at the beginning of July, but the country was also hit by a devastating August earthquake that killed over 2,200 Haitian residents and damaged or destroyed the homes of another 130,000. This earthquake comes just over a decade after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake that killed between 220,000 and 300,000 people, a catastrophic tragedy that the country is still trying to heal from. In the midst of all of this, an increasing number of Haitian migrants have been traveling to the U.S. in an attempt to seek asylum.
Instead, the Biden administration is reportedly preparing to nearly double the number of Haitian migrants being deported from Texas starting on Wednesday of this week. The U.S. government sent out three flights to Port-au-Prince on both Sunday and Monday, deporting several hundred Haitian migrants each day, and are reportedly planning to increase that to “six to seven” flights daily—that makes nearly 1,000 Haitian migrants who will be deported from the U.S. each day.
One of the Haitian immigrants who was deported on Monday, 27-year-old Jeeffry Seendhy Youssheff Pierre, said that he had been shackled with handcuffs during the deportation flight. “They chained me like a slave and brought me back to Haiti without telling me where we were going,” he told The Washington Post. “I have never stolen. I have never sold drugs. Why would they treat me so badly?” Although U.S. authorities said they would give each migrant the equivalent of $100 USD, Pierre said he was only given $25USD upon being released in Haiti. “What am I going to do when the money runs out?”
Despite the fact that Black undocumented migrants are subjected to specifically anti-Black xenophobic violence, their perspectives are often absent from U.S. political conversations about immigration. It’s estimated that there are 4.6 million Black immigrants living in the U.S. right now, and they are more likely to be deported than immigrants of any other race, according to a report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Unsurprisingly, that’s a result of how their Blackness is perceived by law enforcement—76% of Black immigrants are deported as a result of their contact with police. Additionally, a recent report found that between June 2018 and June 2020, the bond amounts for Black immigrants had to pay in order to be released from detention centers or stop their families from being separated were typically higher than those for non-Black immigrants.
“Black immigrants exist, so immigration is a Black issue,” Yoliswa Cele, the national director of narrative and media for UndocuBlack Network, told NBC News in an August interview. “Black immigrants are constantly profiled. Things that could be a ticket then turn into misdemeanors. Black immigrants also have the highest visa denial rates. Black immigrants are more likely, when they are detained, to be put in solitary confinement. We bear the brunt of all the consequences that happen, all the xenophobia in this country.”