EXCLUSIVE: Nana Gyamfi, executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, says the U.S. government is “deadly silent” after this past September’s border crisis in Del Rio as thousands more are sent back to Haiti.
The U.S. government is “deadly silent” on the issue of Haitian immigration, a crisis that became headline news a few months ago as thousands of migrants from the Caribbean nation seeking asylum camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas by the U.S.-Mexico border.
Since then, the Biden administration has deported a majority of those thousands, causing many others to turn back to Mexico in fear of being sent back to Haiti, which continues to face political and economic instability. The migration issue in Del Rio became an international story of interest after U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers on horseback were seen hitting Haitian migrants with reins used as whips.
Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen at an encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. The options remaining for thousands of Haitian migrants straddling the Mexico-Texas border are narrowing as the United States government ramps up to an expected six expulsion flights to Haiti and Mexico began busing some away from the border. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been investigating the actions of Border Patrol since September but has yet to announce any conclusions or status update.
Nana Gyamfi, executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, says the U.S. government is essentially “scrubbing the crime scene.”
“As of last Friday, there have been 88 flights to Haiti since Sept. 19,” Gyamfi told theGrio. “This isn’t even a three-month period.”
Gyamfi added, “10,000 Haitians — 44% of whom are women and children — have been expelled back to Haiti since the beginning of this administration. There have been 124 flights to Haiti with 12,00 plus Haitian expelled. It’s more than the Trump administration in the entire four years, particularly with respect to Title 42 since the Trump administration started this policy.”
The Biden administration, she said, has since “doubled down” on Trump’s “racist, fake policy.”
Gyamfi said Title 42 does not allow immigrants to make the “asylum claims they have a right to make.”
She and other migration advocacy groups have remained in contact with the migrants who continue to struggle in their quest for asylum as the Biden administration continues its deportations under the controversial policy.
Meanwhile, the White House is discussing the extension and expansion of the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which sends asylum seekers back to Mexico as they await their U.S. immigration court dates. The Biden administration initially suspended the policy when President Joe Biden took office, but it was later reinstated by a federal court in Texas.
According to Homeland Security, the MPP is a U.S. government action where foreign immigrants entering the United States through Mexico illegally or without proper documentation may be returned to Mexico and wait outside the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings. During this time. Mexico will provide the immigrants with humanitarian protections during their stay and the United States offers them legal resources.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday’s press briefing that the administration is “absolutely committed to do everything we can … to provide assistance for people who are participating in this program.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talks to reporters during the daily press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on December 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
In 2020 then- presidential candidate Joe Biden chastised President Trump for authorizing MPP. Biden called it “racist” at that time. The Migrant Protection Protocol focuses on western countries and for the first time it included Haiti.
“We still feel the program is inefficient and inhumane and we did not eagerly implement it,” Psaki emphasized from the podium.
She added, “it is not our preference to be reimplementing and reinstituting the Migrant Protection Program Protocol. We are doing that because of a court order and legal requirement to do so.”
As MPP is underway, Haitians are being deported back to their native country. Gyamfi said the Biden administration has deported more immigrants than were sent home during the Trump administration years. In fact, Gyamfi said President Biden has deported more migrants than any other administration.
This comes as Haiti, considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is undergoing turmoil amid rampant gang violence and hostage kidnappings. Earlier this year, Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated and the country experienced a horrific earthquake.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Gyamfi, who has recently met with President Biden alongside other immigration and civil rights leaders over the Haitian migration process, said the administration is extending Title 42 for another 60 days. She wants it abolished.
“Stop expelling people and allow them to make their asylum claims as is allowed by international and U.S. law,” Gyamfi said.
As for MPP, she notes that Haiti at one point was not included in the policy but now is being “directly targeted.”
“[President Biden] reinstated it when there was a brief reprieve and he’s expanded it to now make sure that Haitians and other Black asylum seekers coming from other countries in the Caribbean and South America are now also included,” Gyamfi told theGrio.
She said it’s also important for us to see the administration’s policy stance through a “racial lens” and as a “Black issue.”
“We know that there are people coming from other parts of the world into this country who are being welcomed with open arms who are not Black people,” she said. “We have to ask ourselves, again and again, why is it that this country refuses to allow Black people to seek the asylum that we are entitled to under the law and that we deserve based on our humanity?”
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