remembers samuel The scorching heat on her skin and the cry of her two young children, who were tired, hungry and sick.
They were in Del Rio, Texas after a grueling two-month trip from Chile, which took them to several countries including Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.
At the southern US border, Samuel remembers people were seen on the ground as well as pregnant women and infants who had made a similar journey and were trapped in a similar precarious position as he and his family.
Her children, who were 8 and 1 years old at the time, were vomiting and having diarrhea. He thought that if he did not get food quickly, they would die of hunger.
“In my culture, as a man you shouldn’t cry. You have to be the strongest. My kids were crying. My wife was crying. I didn’t know what to do,” said Samuel through an interpreter Told HuffPost.
Samuel, who is being referred to by a pseudonym because of his work in Haitian politics and because he is seeking asylum in America, decides to take his son to a river, where he has heard that local organizations are dining out. Was doing. On the way, he suddenly saw several people running in his direction, being chased by the Americans.
His son started screaming and tried to run away. Before Samuel could pick her up, in his panic, the young boy fell and injured his eye. It’s been a year, and Samuel said that his son still hasn’t recovered from the incident, both physically and emotionally.
In September 2021, US Border Patrol agents rode on horses and chased thousands of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers as they crossed the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acua in Mexico to Del Rio. Photos and videos of the incident went viral, most notably a photo showing a Border Patrol officer riding a horse grabbing the migrant’s shirt Holding bags that appeared to be holding food and water. In another incident, an agent abused a migrant and drove his horse dangerously around a small child on an inclined concrete ramp. had at least one agent recorded Making derogatory remarks about Haiti and Haitian women.
The incident garnered national attention, and the pushback was immediate, with people condemning the border patrol for its treatment of migrants.
Despite the outcry, Haitian immigrants, immigration activists and researchers say little has been done to reform the asylum process, and they point to a larger issue at hand: the institutional racism that is deeply entrenched in the country’s immigration laws. has become inherent, especially for black immigrants.
“As we approach the one-year anniversary of what the world saw in Del Rio, we want people to remember that moment. We want people to remember the inhumane treatment of people of African descent,” Guerlain Jozef, Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said, a non-profit organization that advocates fair immigration policies,
caste based atrocities
Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris condemned The incident occurred at that time frame, in which Harris likened Harris’ treatment to the mistreatment black people suffered during slavery.
“As we all know, this has given rise to images of some of the worst moments in our history where this kind of behavior has been used against the indigenous people of our country, used against African Americans at the time of slavery. It is,” the Vice President said last year.
A US Customs and Border Protection Inquiry released in July found that border agents used “unnecessary force,” and four Border Patrol agents will face disciplinary action, CBP said its investigation found no evidence that agents had intentionally or otherwise struck the migrants with their reins, a claim that initially fueled anger when the video went viral.
But according to a report released Thursday by Amnesty International, Haitian asylum seekers were treated with discrimination that equated to race-based torture. The report concludes that “an investigation into systemic anti-black racism within the immigration system is urgently needed.”
“What happened in Del Rio last September is really just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lewis Tillotson, a researcher at Amnesty International. “It was a symbolic example of how implicit discrimination is and how well organized it is in the system, and we think it needs to be investigated.”
The report, which was based on testimony from 24 Haitian psychologists working with those migrants and other academics, noted what Haitians experienced in US detention facilities – including access to food, health care, information, interpreters and lawyers. shortage was involved. Also when they were forcibly expelled they were fettered – constituting torture and abuse.
“The expulsion in handcuffs and shackles really caused him severe pain, and he felt that his dignity was taken away from him at the time,” Tillotson said. “We believe that, based on the evidence we have collected, suffering and pain met the threshold of torture within international law because it creates associations with slavery, and was based on discrimination because of race and migration status. “
For Joseph, the report serves as a stark reminder of history.
“As a country, we go back to our slavery roots,” she said.
a tough journey north
In 2016, Samuel fled Haiti after being attacked at least twice by armed men because of his political activism.
He first went to Chile – a nearby country that hosts One of the world’s largest Haitian immigrants I Where his family finally joined him. But things were difficult in Chile. Many Haitians in Chile are battling black racism, low wages and unstable work due to the pandemic. Samuel and his family decided to flee north.
“This trip, every time I think about it, I really can’t hold back my tears,” Samuel said. “When I think about it today, the risk I took to save myself and my family’s lives is probably not something I would do again.”
The journey was treacherous. The family was robbed several times, forced to bribe local law enforcement and physically strained by the trip.
When they finally reached the southern border, the family was relieved that they had made it to American soil.
“I remember saying, ‘Oh my God. In the end, we’ll be saved,'” Samuel said.
But his optimism dissipated when he saw the condition of other Haitians. Without shelter, Samuel laid down his clothes and used tree branches for his family to sleep on the floor. He begged Border Patrol officers for medicine for his sick children, which he says he never received.
The message sent to Del Rio that day, he said, was clear: that his people would not be welcome and subjected to racism.
Samuel is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the government for the District of Columbia in US District Court in December. The complaint accuses the government of physical and verbal abuse, inhumane treatment and denial of due process under Title 42, the public health order that gives border officials the power to expel those who cross during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Immigration is a black issue. Immigration is a human rights issue. So we want to make it clear that we cannot separate immigration from blackness and vice versa,” said Jozef. Samuel and other immigrants in the Haitian Bridge Alliance lawsuit One of the many organizations represented.
For Samuel, the journey to recovery is long. He is particularly concerned about his son, whom he said has scared him in the eyes of the police.
“We are a people asking for shelter and protection,” he said. “Whatever happened that day can never happen again.”