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Holding Politicians Accountable and U.S. Treatment of Haitian Asylum Seekers

The 2020 election determined policymaking ranging from climate change to immigration to criminal justice reform. I knew Joe Biden and Kamala Harris weren’t perfect, both have records with many policies I would not support. But after four years of Trump, which was four years of increased racial tensions and enabling of discriminatory policies, I believed that Biden and Harris were an upgrade, although not perfect.

I have always been of the opinion that we are to hold all politicians accountable regardless of political party, and never, ever, idolize them. Especially within liberal communities, I often see praising of politicians for the bare minimum. They aren’t racist? Praise. They have humanity in their approach to immigrants and asylum seekers? Praise. Why are we glorifying lawmakers for basic human decency?

I am not saying we should not celebrate advancements in social justice issues, I actually wrote an article for Her Campus shortly after Biden took power, about some executive actions of his that impacted minority groups for the better. I was hopeful when writing this article, and there was not a focus on holding him accountable for his past and that of Kamala Harris.

One of the causes of tension between the two parties is the idolization of their candidates. There are candidates that are better aligned with our own individual beliefs, but they will do wrong even after we’ve voted for them, and that lack of accountability will further enable these wrongdoings. An example of that is how members of the Democratic Party need to call Biden’s administration out more on the illegal deportation of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers, or this claim of welcoming refugees in the Democratic Party will be proven false after all this time. Haitian asylum seekers at the Texas border are enduring discriminatory and violent treatment of by Border Patrol, being whipped and facing other physical attacks.

Haitians are being returned to their home country, under a US policy known as Title 42, which is mainly affecting asylum seekers from Central America, Africa, and Haiti who are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, and Latino – for expulsion.

The 1951 UN Refugee Convention (and its 1967 Protocol), protects refugees from being returned to countries where they risk being persecuted. As I have been speaking up about this issue, it has been surprising to find out how many Americans are not aware of international law. The newly scheduled flights to deport Haitians are still happening despite leaked documents showing that Homeland Security staff warned that migrants returned to Haiti “may face harm,” which includes violent crime, kidnapping, and civil unrest. The Biden administration’s enabling of Title 42 to justify sending people back to Haiti is against international human rights law.

I lived in Haiti as a child and teenager for several years due to my parents’ work at the time. I witnessed and survived an earthquake that left my home in ruins and that killed more than 200,000 people in 2010. I had to restart Pre-K, because it was safer for me to stay home for a year, than to go to school where children would be kidnapped (2005 was a known year for this in Haiti). And in July 2021, communities in Haiti had to mourn the death of former President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, who was murdered. I know I am still trying to heal from his death, as is the rest of Haiti. I went to school with Moise’s son. This political figure was also a loving father and husband. He and his family were part of our communities. The growing violence after his murder has been a factor in why Haitians are seeking asylum. One of the things I have stressed on in raising awareness about Haiti’s current situation, is that there can be all this talk about collective action, but if there is no humanity shown towards Haitian communities who have endured so much, there is no effective approach.

I voted for Joe Biden in 2020 with the hope that immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers would be treated with dignity and respect. This is affecting the communities I grew up with, and I believe that the continuous practice of holding the Biden administration accountable and engaging in collective action, will allow for transparency and greater aid for Haitian migrants.

Resources to help Haitian asylum seekers:

https://hibap.org/donate/ to support the Haitian Immigrant Bail Assistance Project

https://baji.org Black Alliance for Just Immigration: Resources + Requesting Help + Donate

If you are in the U.S. contact the White House at 202-456-1111 and tell them to stop deportation flights to Haiti

Instagram resources with more links and information:

@instabaji

@diasporarising

@undocublack

@haitianbridge

Vanessa Martinez is a Political Science major at Rollins College, and is the Junior Editor and Media Coordinator of HerCampus Rollins. She is passionate about poetry and traveling, and plans on becoming a human rights lawyer.
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