The Signal

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Sunday November 28th

OPINION: Destabilization in Haiti is a US made problem

Editor's note: This story was intended for publication on Oct. 11, but could not be published until now because of our website was offline.

By Lana Leonard

On June 7, Vice President Kamala Harris held a press conference in Guatemala City with Guatemalan President, Alejandro Giammattei, on immigration. In the press conference, Harris made it a point to deter immigrants looking to make the near 1,500-mile journey from Guatemala to the U.S.-Mexico border at Del Rio, Texas. 

“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come,” Harris said in the press conference. She promised that the U.S.’s priority was to secure its borders and enforce the law. 

Since mid-September, more than 14,000 Haitian migrants crossed the Rio Grande at the Del Rio, Texas border after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti left more than 2,000 dead, and many homeless. The earthquake preceded Tropical Storm Grace, all amid the fallout of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. 

As migrants made the journey to the border, Border Patrol agents terrorized them. Images and videos have gone viral since — Border Patrol on horseback grabbing, herding and shouting expletives at those who sacrificed their lives to seek asylum, family and opportunity.  

America’s humanitarian obligation toward immigration – a discussed part of administrative reform – is becoming an empty promise.

"We must root out corruption wherever it exists," Harris said in a press conference. "It erodes the confidence the people have in their government and its leaders." 

Protesters carrying the Haitian flag gather in St. Paul, Minnesota to support DACA in 2018. (Flickr / “Haitian immigrants protesting Trump immigration policies” by Fibonacci Blue. Jan. 20, 2018)

The root cause of border corruption is founded in systemic racial violence and American imperialism. When the U.S. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) ended, and Del Rio was designated as the new U.S. and Mexico border. The end of the war created what is known as the “border crisis.”

According to Karl Jacoby, the Allan Nevins Professor of American History at Columbia University, the U.S. used the border to prevent indigenous people from crossing it, as well as to keep enslaved African Americans from seeking emancipation from the U.S. in Mexico. 

Title 42 of the Public Health Service Act holds its own place in the creation of the border crisis. Invoked by the Trump administration (preserved by the Biden administration), Title 42 was used to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus by denying entry to migrants at the border. The authority is not new. Since the early 1890s, provisions like Title 42 have taken various forms, claiming to protect public health at the border. A federal judge has since ordered the Biden administration to halt the practice of Title 42; the order states the act neither grants the government the right to mass expel migrants seeking asylum without a hearing, nor proves discontinued spread of Covid-19.

It is important to understand that thousands of people are fleeing Haiti due to multiple factors. These factors include U.S. involvement in Haiti’s election process, continued racial violence at the border and the U.S.’s involvement in selling arms to Haiti’s government. What is happening at the border is exactly what the Biden administration, Trump administration and Obama administration called for. 

In order for the violence to end, the U.S. must open the border for Haitian migrants to plead their case for asylum. The U.S. must end its support to the repressive autocrats of The Bald-Head Party (including the backing of de-facto Prime Minister, and acting President, Ariel Henry). Instead, the U.S. should reconsider working with Civil Society Leaders such as the Commission for the Search for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, and end U.S. arms sales to Haiti.

Securing and enforcing the law at the border only perpetuates an endless cycle of merciless violence, leading people into cages and jails.


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