Recent developments in the U.S.-Mexico border involving the deportation of thousands of Haitian migrants continue to highlight the exceedingly hypocritical nature of U.S. immigration laws. Immigration has been controlled in various ways by the U.S. government for a century as the result of several immigrant waves and world wars (which shaped refugee claims and processes today). It has been historically demonstrated how frequently these immigration laws contained deep-rooted notions of xenophobia and white supremacy, consequently solidifying the idea that this pattern could exist today, and does in fact exist today.
The recent deportation of thousands of Haitian migrants has been defended as legal by the Department of Homeland Security due to Title 42 of the 1944 immigration law currently being empowered, misinformation that is “apparently” the reason for such a large influx of Haitian migrants, and the fact that the vast majority of Haitian migrants legally cannot claim asylum. Essentially, Title 42 provided the nuance for the American government under the immigration law passed in 1944 to deport non-citizens as prevention of a spread of a communicable disease. Considering that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, this law had been particularly emphasized by the Trump administration so as to legalize his promises of deporting large numbers of migrants from “our” borders. Adding on, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) explained that the Haitian migrants at the border had attempted crossing due to misinformation, in which the general belief was that they could enter the U.S. and achieve residency due to the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) laws that had been extended to Haiti. DHS has said that this TPS extended to Haitian migrants has run up on its time, and initially only applied to Haitian migrants living in the US before this due date. Lastly, in order to apply for asylum, anywhere in the world, there must be persecution or fear of persecution on the matters of identity that the asylee has faced in their home country. Without proof of persecution or proof of fear of persecution based on identity, legally there is no backing to the claim of asylum and deportation would be the result.
Evidently, the DHS, and by delegation the U.S. government, is aware of the immigration laws that allow them to act the way they do; instances like this where thousands of people quite literally are risking their lives for a better life are being treated as criminal adversaries are the natural consequence of an immigration system that has xenophobia and white supremacy built into it. While the DHS has their legal justification, the mere legality of the deportations, in this case with Hatian migrants but applicable to all other migrants fleeing violent or poor states, is not enough to address the clearly hypocritical treatment of Black and brown bodies by the U.S. and the lack of concern for humans who are escaping violence as a consequence of post-colonial foreign interference. Particularly, if the U.S. immigration system has enough legal basis to have given Haiti TPS, then evidently the U.S. is aware of an extreme problem Haitian migrants face in the reasons behind wanting to flee Haiti. The legal precedence set up by the extension of Temporary Protected Status to Haitians signifies that there is an awareness of the particular vacuum that exists for migrants who absolutely need asylum but cannot legally fit under that term, and the refusal to reenact such a status for this particular group of Haitian migrants is an outright denial of evidence and betrayal to the very people the law was supposed to protect. The fact that TPS was warranted for Haitian immigrants living in America is just further evidence for why Haitians at the U.S.-Mexico border deserve to have their cases examined on a federal level so as to once again be provided protected avenues for immigration. The keenness to deport thousands of Haitian migrants, only weeks after the end of the original TPS rollout, exemplifies a racially motivated campaign against migrants and immigrants of color. It exemplifies how quickly the U.S. immigration system will view certain factions of people as disposable, and how legality in itself is rarely indicative of what should actually be done. The use of force by border patrol, seen through images of white officers on horses whipping Haitian nationals, and the disorienting poorly equipped conditions of the deportation process are America’s immigration system carrying out its inherent racist treatment against Black and brown bodies. The immigration system works the way it does so as to deter migrants, yet we simultaneously pet our ego to an international audience of our multiculturalism and continue to interfere diplomatically, politically and militarily with the same states we are trying to deter migrants from. The brutality that was so easily forced upon these Haitian migrants is a spectacle that is far too common between U.S. agencies and Black populations. The hesitancy to provide comprehensive immigration laws that capture the actual information of the current situation in Haiti and provide them with safe legally protected avenues for immigration is disrespectful to the historical moral debt America has to Haiti. The arguments against allowing this immigration are blind to the reality that America was and is a state of immigrants, can only function economically on the backbone of immigrants and that legality has almost never truly equated with justice when concerning the achievement of rights and adequate quality of life for Black and brown bodies; let’s choose to not be blind this time.