Haitian migrants at the southern border have been granted a reprieve and will not be immediately deported as previously planned. Instead, many of them have been released into the United States and instructed to report to an immigration office in the coming months.
The Associated Press reported that an anonymous official said Tuesday that many of the migrants had been freed, in direct opposition to the Biden administration’s statements that they would be immediately deported by plane.
There is speculation that massive media coverage and photos circulated on social media showing border patrol agents on horses whipping migrants have something to do with the sharp reversal. Those images are now being reported as fake news.
Accusations of racism abounded as the public recognized that non-Black migrants to the United States were not treated as severely and often offered the ability to seek asylum instead of immediately being told they would be deported.
Apparently, the entire worlds’ eyes were deceiving them.
A significant group of Black leaders from the head of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson, to Al Sharpton, signed a letter directed to President Biden to stop the unequal handling of the situation. By Tuesday, Texas Rep. Al Green stood before the House and announced a resolution to condemn how the migrants were mistreated.
The table was shaken even more after The View’s co-host Sunny Hostin, lawyer and former legal analyst, explained that the United States’ refusal to offer Haitian migrants equal treatment is a punishment for Haiti’s courageous and successful push for independence from slavery hundreds of years ago.
In 1791, enslaved people in Haiti revolted in what became a years-long fight for their freedom. In 1801, the formerly enslaved leader of the revolt, Toussaint L’Overture, agreed to a cease-fire, but not before having led the cause that freed enslaved people on both the French and Spanish-controlled sides of the island.
Since then, France has levied financial punishment on the island for centuries. Although those demands for payment have ended, the maneuver is inarguably one of the things that have made the island so politically and financially precarious.
Not all of the migrants who are at the border will be allowed to stay—the makeshift camp where they were being housed initially had an estimated 14,000 people. Between Sunday and Tuesday, ten flights with a capacity of 135 people each arrived in Haiti. Now, an estimated 8,600 people remain.
The government has declined to say how many individuals they have allowed entry into the United States, however, the criteria for who receives the reprieves is still unclear. Previously, asylum seekers were more likely to be allowed to remain in the case of vulnerability, such as pregnancy, illness or being an unaccompanied minor.
Right now, despite the reprieve, the status of many migrants is up in the air. Wade McMullen, an attorney with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has called this immigration scenario a “black box” with nobody understanding what the process or protections for the newcomers will be.