The Haitian refugee crisis is a humanitarian one

Courtesy of Pixnio. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti displaced thousands of families. Many fled to surrounding countries.

Mia Lubrani | staff columnist

Sept. 30, 2021

A viral video of U.S. border patrol on horseback attempting to corral Haitian refugees away from the U.S. has shined a light on the dehumanizing situation at the U.S.-Mexico border growing more chaotic every day.

Stemming from the video, there have been recent efforts to expel the immigrants by border patrol. The San Diego Union-Tribune says 15,000 people were living under a bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Mexico’s Ciudad Acuña nearly two weeks ago. 

Del Rio is suffering from the influx of people trying to seek asylum from Mexico, and the majority of the displaced people have endured long journeys from Haiti, Chile, Brazil and Colombia. These people are refugees — people who cannot go back to their origin country due to a fear of persecution.

Before the recent refugee crisis began, Haitian refugees were displaced after an earthquake in 2010, impacting their economic stability and quality of life. After the earthquake, many citizens fled to neighboring countries. Eager to help their allies, the countries opened their borders.

A majority of the displaced persons stayed in their locations throughout the Trump administration, as they had strengthened constraints on refugee laws and standards in the U.S. 

Moreover, the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, Haiti’s president, on July 7 shook Haiti’s political climate and safety. On top of the fact that more than half of Haiti’s population is living below the poverty line, the political administration was left unstable,  and citizens were stranded with living on less than $2 per day, according to The Borgan Project.

The unprecedented migration that occurred over the past few months has led to a group of refugees waiting for permission into the border. America was aware of the influx before it occurred, but when thousands started arriving, the border was forced to shut. 

Due to the U.N. agreement, America would have to grant refugees asylum if they have provable fear. Right now, natural disasters do not qualify under Article 1 of the Convention Relating to Status of Refugees. 

Moreover, refugees often seek safety because of natural disasters ruining economic sustainability in first world countries. All eyes across the globe are on the U.S. because of the mistreatment of families at the border, and the Department of Homeland Security is attempting to use a pandemic related authority to exile refugees from staying at the border. 

The U.S. does not seem inclined to open the borders to thousands of Haitian refugees, after President Joe Biden granted 90,000 Afghan refugees Temporary Protection Status, as well as to Haitians already in the U.S., not those at the border. 

Viewers are worried that this is a human rights issue, and the treatment of the refugees is more animalistic than American ideology promotes. 

Some people think it is hypocritical to be the “land of the free” and the “melting pot” when the government doesn’t show empathy to immigrants. Others argue that there is a system in place for a reason, and Haitians cannot be an exception. 

Haitian refugees should be treated as humans; They are fleeing from dire situations. As a first world country, citizens don’t recognize the fear for safety and desperation for peace that displaced families face. 

The U.S. should be attempting to process the refugees, administer vaccines, all while showing empathy for fellow humans. Although governments have to be practical, there is a certain respect a country should uphold when dealing with groups of displaced persons who are in fear of their lives if turned away.

The Haitian refugee crisis is increasingly unstable, and a growing issue as the Biden administration continues to respond to the influx of asylum seekers at the U.S. border. 

Recently, the 15,000 people, with 60% being family units, have been sent back to Haiti. 

Some of these people have not lived in Haiti for years, and they will be reintegrated into a dangerous and poverty stricken climate. The LA Times writes that Biden is embarrassed by the inhumane treatment, yet they were sent back.

The Haitian immigration crisis has been ongoing since 2010 and will not stop until someone helps the displaced persons find a safe home. And those refugees forced back into an unknown and dangerous system must somehow find peace in an unstable world.