Written by: Elena Cata
“He has definitely failed us,” said Tessa Petit, Haitian-immigrant activist and co-executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “Joe Biden came to Little Haiti and said, “‘We will protect you.’ We’ve never seen this before. Literally, it feels like an attack towards Hatitians.”
The election of Joe Biden in 2020 brought great hope to Haitian asylum seekers and their Haitian-American family members alike. Thousands of Haitians fled their native country and neighboring Latin American countries in hopes that the Biden administration would implement comprehensive immigration reform that would award them protection in the United States. Since October 1st of 2021, there have been 9,007 recorded crossing attempts by Haitian migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border. However, they have been met with stark rejection as the Biden Administration has deported nearly 14,000 Haitians since September of 2021. Furthermore, asylum seekers’ dreams of crossing the U.S.-Mexico borders have been devastatingly thwarted as the current administration continues to uphold strict border restrictions put in place by the previous administration that reject asylum seekers.
Consequently, thousands of Haitians are currently living in limbo in Mexico where they face extreme poverty, racism, and limited legal recourse options. Mexico has been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of migrants and does not possess the capability to safely house these asylum seekers. While these migrants often have no access to medical care, are unable to work, and face inescapable anti-black racism, life in Mexico is still more desirable than returning to Haiti. While this crisis has recently worsened, Haitian exodus is nothing new. Haitians have been fleeing their home country since the devastating 2010 earthquake. These migrants originally fled to neighboring Latin and South American countries such as Chile and Brazil. However, thousands of Haitians have been driven out of these countries due to the economic downturn in the region that has occurred in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, the economic and political crisis in Haiti is dire and many citizens face the impossible choice of leaving their home or falling victim to political violence and economic ruin. As such, an unstable life in Mexico is the best option for thousands of Haitians who have faced more hardship in a lifetime than many can imagine.
During his campaign, President Biden promised to implement a more humane immigraiton policy than that of former President Trump. Yet he has failed to deliver on such a promise. His administration continues to uphold Title 42, a pandemic-related border policy that bars in-migration and neglects the importance of asylum seekers. Even though the United States possesses the resources to accept these asylum seekers (resources that Mexico does not have), the Biden Administration has failed to act humanely and pass comprehensive immigration reform. President Biden cannot continue to vocalize his commitment to human rights while simultaneously breaking his promise to protect Haitian migrants. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words and the Biden administration must act swiftly to save thousands of Haitian lives that are in jeopardy in Mexico.