“I remain deeply troubled by the treatment of Haitian immigrants arriving at the Texas border as they travel north through South America and are subsequently being deported back to Haiti,” said Dr. Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to the City Council, in his letter to Biden.
“Since 2010, Haiti has been subjected to several natural disasters, including tropical storms, two catastrophic earthquakes that caused significant devastation, and continued political unrest and socioeconomic instability,” added Dr. Eugene, chair of the Council Committee on Civil and Human Rights, who represents the predominantly 40th Council District in Brooklyn. “With each successive crisis, the rebuilding and recovery process is put into disarray, and the availability of critical resources for the country becomes even more limited.
“As I have stated on many occasions, Haiti is not prepared to handle an influx of deportees,” continued Eugene in his letter, a copy of which was made available to Caribbean Life. “The country is hurting, and the Haitian people are struggling every day to cope with a substantial amount of personal loss, including emotional and physical trauma, and financial uncertainty.
“Sending Haitian immigrants back to Haiti will only worsen the ongoing situation and will also increase the burden on their family members living in the United States, many of whom have established careers here,” he said. “They are doctors, nurses, cab drivers, medical professionals, business owners, teachers and entrepreneurs. Their work has supported our national economy for generations, and they have served a critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the labor of our essential workers helped get our city, our state and our country through the darkest days of this public health crisis.”
The legislator said the Haitian refugees, who are traveling through Mexico into Texas, are “enduring extremely unsafe living conditions and are putting their lives at risk.
“They are human beings, and they have embarked on a very dangerous and treacherous journey to reach what they hope is a safe and stable environment,” he said. “I am urging you to stop their deportation, to help them, and to give Haitian immigrants the due process that they are entitled to.
“It is an important humanitarian gesture to accept Haitian immigrants in the United States, because it aligns with the principles and philosophy that this country was founded on,” Dr. Eugene said. “We are known around the world as a beacon of freedom, liberty and opportunity for all who seek it, and it is heartbreaking to witness the violent treatment of Haitian refugees at the border, knowing that this type of attack on human dignity should no longer occur in modern day America.
“I am confident that your administration will do what is right for these immigrants, because this situation is sending the wrong message to the global community about the values that the United States upholds,” he told Biden.
Over the weekend, New York Attorney General Letitia James joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general across the United States in dispatching a letter to President Biden and US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressing deep concern over the treatment of thousands of Haitian refugees currently seeking humanitarian aid along the border in Texas.
The coalition also urged the administration to reevaluate its rush to unfairly expel refugees to Haiti.
“I have seen the devastating and disturbing photos of border patrol officers on horseback using whips to corral Haitian refugees seeking asylum, and it’s clear that they have not been shown the humanity and concern they are owed,” James told Caribbean Life.
“We are a nation built by immigrants, and we cannot be callous and cruel towards individuals fleeing natural disaster, political instability, extreme poverty, and violence in their home country,” she added. “I stand with my fellow attorneys general in urging the Biden administration to end the mistreatment of Haitians at the border and demonstrate the morality and compassion that they deserve.”
In recent days, photographs and video emerged of US immigration officials using inhume tactics, including charging at and attempting to whip Haitian refugees, in Del Rio, Texas.
James noted that this comes as thousands of refugees continue to flee Haiti, as the French-speaking Caribbean country faces “unprecedented political upheaval following this summer’s presidential assassination and struggles to rebuild critical infrastructure after a destabilizing earthquake last month.”
In their letter, the attorneys general are calling on the Biden administration to ensure US federal officials treat Haitian refugees with dignity and compassion.
On Thursday, Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke joined her Massachusetts congressional colleague, Ayanna Soyini Pressley, in expressing deep concern over the resignation of US Special Envoy to Haiti Daniel Foote amid Washington’s decision to deport thousands of Haitian migrants at the Texas border.
“We are deeply troubled after reading Special Envoy to Haiti Ambassador Daniel Foote’s resignation letter and share Ambassador Foote’s concern regarding the inhumane and counterproductive decisions to deport Haitian refugees at our southern border,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, and Pressley, who are co-chairs of the US House of Representatives’ Haiti Caucus.
Clarke represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, while Pressley represents Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District.
“The Haitian state is still reeling from a series of compounding and emergent crises,” said Clarke and Pressley in a joint statement. “It is unconscionable the administration would choose to deport refugees to Haiti in its current capacity, and it must immediately reverse course and halt these cruel deportations indefinitely.
“In addition, it is disappointing Ambassador Foote’s celebrated experience within the Haitian civil society was not appreciated, and his wealth of knowledge will not continue to be available to Haiti,” added the co-chairs. “It is our hope the administration will consult members of the Haitian civil society, and members of Congress before appointing Ambassador Foote’s successor.
“Our efforts to support a Haitian-led democratic government’s stabilization and reemergence is paramount,” Clarke and Pressley continued. “America cannot continue on the path of inadequate political interventions in Haiti. We must reimagine our approach and policies to supporting our Haitian neighbors.”
Foote – who was appointed special envoy to Haiti in July, shortly after Haiti President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated – tendered his resignation on Wednesday because of the “inhumane” and “counterproductive” deportations of Haitian migrants.
Earlier last week, Haitian community leaders in Brooklyn, New York strongly condemned the mass deportation of Haitian migrants from the Texas border.
The leaders, including legislators – Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, and Council Members Dr. Eugene and Farah N. Louis – rallied outside Brooklyn Borough Hall denouncing the deportations.
The Biden administration two Saturdays ago began deporting thousands of Haitians who have migrated at the southern border after illegally entering the US, overwhelming the South Texas town of Del Rio.
Clarke also reiterated her plea for “a humanitarian moratorium” on the Haitian repatriation flights “due to the emergent and compounding situations in Haiti” and strongly condemned the behavior of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at the Texas border, who, on horseback, sought to deter the migration of Haitians.
The congresswoman, however, said she supports US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas’ comprehensive investigation into the “egregious series of events in Del Rio, Texas.”
On Friday, President Biden and Vice President, Kamala Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father, strongly condemned the horseback rounding-up of Haitian migrants, portrayed in images from the US-Mexico.
“It’s horrible what you saw. To see people like they did, with horses, running them over, people being strapped, it’s outrageous,”
said Biden in a White House briefing. “I promise you: those people will pay… There is an investigation underway right now, and there will be consequences.
“It’s an embarrassment,” the US president added. “It’s beyond an embarrassment. It’s 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.”
Biden said he took responsibility for what happened at the US border.
Harris said she, too, was outraged by the actions of immigration agents.
“I was outraged by it, it was horrible and deeply troubling,” she said on national TV. “Human beings should not be treated that way, and, as we all know, it also evokes images of some of the worst moments of our history, where that kind of behavior has been used against the indigenous people in our country, has been used against African Americans during times of slavery.”