Over 200 Haitians and their supporters gathered at the CNN center in downtown Atlanta on Sunday, September 26 to speak their truths and make demands from the United States (US) government.
Haitians want the Biden administration to stop the deportation of Haitians back to Haiti without due process.
“Haiti is experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID pandemic,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a Washington Post article recently.
On May 22, 2021, Mayorkas extended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to enable Haitians to stay in the US until conditions improved in Haiti so they could safely return home.
In May it was too dangerous for Haitians to return to Haiti, according to Secretary Mayorkas. But in September after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the collapse of the government, and another major earthquake, Haitians are being returned to Haiti. “So now Haiti is a safer place than it was on May 22?” Attorney Lana Joseph, who represents the Haitian migrants, questions this logic. “If it wasn’t safe on May 22, it’s still not safe now.”
“Haiti is in the grips of gang violence, kidnapping, corruption, political persecution, and collapse of the government and this insecurity makes it a terrible place to live right now with the population living in fear. That is why Haitians are leaving Haiti in numbers we have never seen before,” Wadner Normil, Good Samaritan Haitian Alliance Church said.
Haitians want to stay in Haiti but they can’t because there is no hope in their homeland. They want the US to stop arbitrary deportations without due process.
Also, the Biden administration should stop using title 42, a 1944 Public Health Service Act, that former President Donald Trump used to deport everyone because of the COVID pandemic. We now have a vaccine to vaccinate everyone against COVID who enters the US.
Injustice and Mistreatment of Haitians at the Texas Border
“We see other [white] immigrants coming here and they are welcome. But when black and brown immigrants come here, they are not welcomed. They are sent back to the country they come from even if that country is devastated. Biden, we voted for you to support everybody, not just white people,” Dre Normando Love, Alliance for Black Lives, said.
“The injustice happening in Texas and all around the US has not stopped. They are still deporting people without due process. They are releasing some of the people and they want you to believe that they are releasing all of them, but that is not true. It’s just a small percentage of them that are being released,” Joseph said.
Joseph claims Haitians are being tricked to leave from under the bridge with promises to go to a facility where they can take a bath and eat but in the process, they are put on planes and returned to Haiti. Many Haitians had claims of asylum because gangs had threatened their lives but they did not get due process or be able to discuss why they couldn’t go back to Haiti.
“They want you to believe some of these people are criminals and they are here to take opportunities from you but that is not true,” Joseph said.
She spoke with college graduates, business owners, doctors, lawyers; who are not fleeing Hati because of poverty but because of gang violence that threatens their lives.
Thousands of Haitian migrants have been placed in many different detention centers. “So we can’t keep track of them, and they can deport them without our intervention,” Joseph said.
Frantz Bourget, Board member of the United Front for the Haitian Diaspora, wants to know, “US what is your definition of a good neighbor policy?”
The US has spent $325 million per day for the past 20 years on Afghanistan for your security and it is over seven thousand miles away from the US.
“Now we have Haiti which is about 500 miles from Florida. Haitians are your neighbors, and you are going to mistreat them like this? We expect more from the US. We want you to live up to your word and be a good neighbor,” Bourget said.
“We ask the Biden administration to stop the deportation of Haitians just like they did for the Afghans. We ask that the judge give Haitians the chance to explain why they are fleeing Haiti,” Wadner Normil, Good Samaritan Haitian Alliance Church, said.
The Hazardous Journey to the Texas Border
Haiti was never rebuilt after the earthquake 10 years ago and the recent earthquake was stronger. Haitians made a huge sacrifice to leave their country and make a dangerous trip to the US. They would rather stay in Haiti but can’t because of the gang violence, corruption, kidnapping, and the county has been devastated by hurricanes and earthquakes. There is no hope in their homeland.
Haitians walked through many countries, some drowned in rivers, others were robbed and killed, while many women and children were raped along the way.
Young children after finally reaching the Texas border were sick, coughing, with runny noses, hungry and thirsty as they lay in the heat and dirt under the Del Reo International Bridge. They were given dry bread and hot water to drink.
A 31-year-old woman was about to give birth when she reached the bridge. She was taken someplace to give birth and then returned back under the bridge with her baby to sleep in the heat and dirt where the baby was exposed to viruses.
“This is beyond cruel. They could have released her but they left her under the bridge and the woman and baby did not deserve this inhumane treatment,” Joseph said.
The mistreatment of Haitian refugees at the Mexico Texas border was inhuman, and worse their deportation back to a country devastated by two major earthquakes, hurricanes, and the assassination of Haiti’s president where they may be killed.
Haitians Have Contributed to the US throughout History
In 1779, over 500 volunteers from the settlement of Haiti fought with the US against the British during the siege of Savannah. In 1812 the Haitians fought again against the British, and Haiti was on the side of the US during WWII.
The city of Chicago was founded by Jean Baptist Point du Sable a Haitian.
Pierre Toussaint, a former slave from Haiti, was transported to NYC by his owners in 1789. He later became one of the leading black New Yorkers of his time. He became a philanthropist, established an orphanage for refugees, and gave them jobs.
Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes was a prominent Haitian editor, author, and civil rights activist from New Orleans. He is known for his work in the Plessy v. Ferguson trial, one of the most critical civil rights cases in American history.
The US was able to acquire the Louisiana Territory only because Napoleon was unable to subdue a revolt in Haiti led by a black Haitian slave, Francois Toussaint L’Ouverture.
The Haitian Revolution led by General L’Ouverture lasted 13 years. Finally, on January 1, 1804, Haiti became the first black Republic in this hemisphere. The US refused to recognize Haiti’s independence for 62 years because the Southern slave owners worried about the impact of an independent black country so close to the US.
General L’Ouverture led African slaves to victory after victory over England and France and in the process saved the United States from European domination.
Haiti supplied Spain and the US colonies with sugar, coffee, molasses, and cotton.
Haiti continues to enrich our lives without much credit. The Creole culture of New Orleans, the modern dances of the choreographer Katherine Dunham, Graham Greene’s novel “The Comedians” and Kenneth Roberts’s “Lydia Bailey,” the paintings of Jacob Lawrence and the film “The Serpent and the Rainbow.” are a few examples.
Written and photos by Gloria Tatum