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The Internationalist
September 2021

Democrats, Republicans: Enemies of Immigrants

Stop Racist Deportation of Haitians!

U.S. Border Patrol using horse reins against Haitian immigrants in Texas, September 19. (Paul Ratje / AFP)

A year ago, Democrat Joe Biden was running for president promising to undo Trump’s vicious attacks on immigrants and replace them with a supposed “fair and humane” U.S. immigration policy. But since taking office, the exact opposite has happened. The Biden administration has been deporting at an even faster rate than the Trump administration ever did. Within the first seven months of the Biden presidency, 605,509 people were deported and expelled under Title 42 of the 1944 Health Services Law, the same clause that Trump used to refuse to admit immigrants and asylum seekers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.1 In Biden’s first week in office, hundreds of Haitians were deported back to Haiti, and now the situation on the island has grown even worse following the murder of Haitian President Jovenal Moïse in early July, and then an earthquake that destroyed much of the southern part of the country.

By mid-September, thousands of Haitians started appearing at the Texas border with Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol reported that 9,000 migrants, mostly Haitian, had crossed the river at Del Rio, Texas. Stunning photos showed them being held in a pen under the International Bridge where conditions were unsanitary and overwhelmingly crowded, while make-shift tents provided little to no shelter against dust storms and extreme heat. This soon expanded to over 15,000 migrants corralled under the bridge, many of whom had traveled thousands of miles from Chile and Brazil. They had fled to South America after the 2010 earthquake that leveled Port-au-Prince, killed up to 300,000 and displaced millions. But in the pandemic, most lost their jobs.

The Internationalist Group, Revolutionary Inter­­national­ist Youth and Trabaja­dores Interna­cionales Clasistas start­ed im­med­iately looking to protest this atrocity. We sent emails and made phone calls to several Haitian and immigrant rights organizations, but initially did not find any actions to mobilize against these horrific unfolding events. This reflected the fact that since Biden took office, mass protests against deportations have all but disappeared, when there should be militant action to stop the expulsions and deportations. Instead, most of those who marched in 2018 against Trump’s caging of immigrant youths placed confidence in the Democratic Party. So the response to Biden’s deportations has been to write letters beseeching the administration, even to the Department of Homeland Security (!), headed by Cuban exile Alejandro Mayorkas.

Brooklyn protest against deportations of Haitians, September 21. (Internationalist photo)

Then the photos and video footage surfaced of Border Patrol agents mounted on horses using long reins against Haitians attempting to cross the Rio Grande, causing even greater outrage among the Haitian population, and many others. On Tuesday, September 21 a demonstration was called by Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and other groups at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, where a small crowd of several dozen gathered. A sign of one of the groups, Komokoda (Committee to Mobilize Against Dictatorship in Haiti), read, “U.S. Border Patrol = Slave Catchers.” Another sign read: “Biden Is a Bogus Democrat.” The IG, RIY and TIC brought a contingent with signs calling to “Stop Biden’s Deportation of Haitians Now!” and “Democrats, Republicans, Enemies of Immigrants – Full Citizenship Rights for All!”

The IG also called to “Stop Racist Deportations of Haitians! No Asylum for Afghan Collaborators with Imperialist Occupation,” referencing the U.S. transporting over 100,000 people from Afghanistan following the fall of the Kabul government in mid-August. Our signs also called “Stop the deportation of Haitians from the U.S. and Mexico,” as well as the Dominican Republic. The D.R. has deported hundreds of thousands of workers of Haitian origin over the years (“Stop the Expulsion of Haitians from the Dominican Republic,” The Internationalist No. 40, Summer 2015). And the Mexican government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been acting as border guards for the U.S., both under Republican Trump and now Democrat Biden. Following Biden’s lead, Mexico rounded up the Haitians on the other side of the river in Villa Acuña and along with others in Tapachula, Chiapas and Villahermosa, Tabasco and put them on planes to Haiti.

Protest in Grand Army Plaza denounced Border Patrol slave catchers. (Internationalist photo)

The response of the Biden administration to the chaos at the border has been to deport already more than 1,000 Haitians on flights back to Haiti, a country in total breakdown. Meanwhile, the camp was emptied out to get rid of the “visuals.” Aside from those sent to Haiti, some arriving shackled, it’s not entirely clear where the others ended up. In the midst of the uproar, the U.S. special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned after having been appointed after the assassination of Jovenal Moïse, saying in a stinging letter that he refused to be associated with the “inhumane, counterproductive” U.S. policy toward Haitian migrants.

Last year, there was an outpouring of rage against the racist police and vigilante violence and murdering of black people. But now when black Haitians are literally being chased down by mounted border patrol agents acting as slave catchers, where are the mass protests of this racist atrocity? Evidently “black lives matter” to liberals and reformist leftists only when it’s to elect Democrats. All the talk of “fair and humane” immigration policies has come to naught, and don’t forget that Barack Obama was the notorious “deporter-in-chief.” Virtually the entire opportunist left fell into line to support Biden against Trump. The thunderous silence in the streets over the horrendous treatment of Haitian immigrants is the result. Those who would fight against exploitation and oppression need to forge a revolutionary workers party to lead the struggle to sweep away the moribund capitalist system. It’s a matter of life and death. ■

  1. 1. In comparison, immigrant-basher Trump expelled 255,163 between March 2020 and January 2021.