The White House has announced that the U.S. will welcome 100,000 Ukrainians who have fled their country due to the Russian invasion, which was launched on Feb. 24. While the gesture could be viewed as humanitarian, some see it as a political move. The U.S. is more invested in the European country of Ukraine than, say, a Caribbean like Haiti. Haiti too had thousands fleeing violent political turmoil that ensued after the assassination of their President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.
Yet, Biden deported nearly 30,000 Haitian refugees. Controversy ensued in September 2021 when hundreds of Haitians who were crossing the border from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas, were aggressively pushed back by U.S. patrol on horseback. While Biden, at the time, vowed that the officials who used horses to corralled up Haitian refugees would be punished, the images for many were reminiscent of slave owners rounding up Black people during the Antebellum South.
“There will be consequences,” the president said. “It’s an embarrassment, but beyond an embarrassment, it is dangerous. It’s wrong.”
“I promise you; those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences,” Biden said. “It’s an embarrassment, but beyond an embarrassment, it is dangerous. It’s wrong; it sends the wrong message around the world; it sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are.”
Esteemed civil rights activist Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP who was recently appointed Massachusetts state hate crimes task force, noted on a tweet that the denial of Haitian refugee seekers versus the U.S. acceptance of the Ukrainians is racist.
He tweeted, “The Trump administration deported 6691 Haitians in 4 yrs. The Obama administration deported 6758 Haitian in 8 yrs. The Biden administration has deported nearly 30,000 Haitians during its first year, more than the last 4 presidents combined. But, welcome 100,000 Ukrainians.”
He added, “Biden Admin: $6.4 billion to resettle 76,000 Afghan refugees granted Temporary Protected Status $14 billion to resettle 100,000 Ukrainian refugees $15 million no bid contract to Geo Group, a for profit migrant detention center operator, to deport 30,000 Haitian refugees“
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The U.S. is standing by its decision to allow the Ukrainians.
“By opening our country to these individuals, we will help relieve some of the pressure on the European host countries that are currently shouldering so much of the responsibilities for what is the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War,” a President Joe Biden admission official told Newsweek.
But the sting of what happened to the Haitian refugees still lingers. A group of Haitian refuees is suing the Biden administration over its treatment of them, recounting in detail conditions at a makeshift camp in Del Rio, Texas, and confrontations with officers on horseback. The lawsuit was filed in December 2021 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, CNN reported.
Photo: In this Sept. 19, 2021, file photo, U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas. The Border Patrol’s treatment of Haitian migrants, they say, is just the latest in a long history of discriminatory U.S. policies and of indignities faced by Black people, sparking new anger among Haitian Americans, Black immigrant advocates and civil rights leaders.( AP Photo/Felix Marquez, File)