Deportations, the Biden administration & Black History Month

Felicia Persaud | 2/18/2021, midnight
Andrea Meza, director of family detention services for RAICES, which stands for Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal ...
Felicia Persaud

Andrea Meza, director of family detention services for RAICES, which stands for Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, had an interesting question for the Joe Biden administration this Black History Month, on the heels of the deportation of hundreds of Black immigrants from the U.S. in the past few weeks.

How do they justify “to primarily Black voters who put them in power why they are allowing hundreds of Black families to be sent to danger and instability when they have the power to stop this?” she questioned in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.

Meza, like many Black immigrant advocates, are mad as hell at the Biden’ Department of Homeland Security’s continued deportation of hundreds of mainly Black Haitian immigrants this Black History Month.

They included at least 72 people, including a two-month-old infant and 21 children, to Port-Au-Prince. Haitians were also being sent to Ciudad Juárez in Mexico as ICE agents used a public health law, known as Title 42. They also cited the coronavirus pandemic to begin removing asylum seekers from the country after they arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A DHS official, however, told the Independent that Haitians ranged between just two to 5% of the Title 42 expulsions carried out within the last three weeks, which, they said, mostly involved individuals encountered while attempting to cross into the U.S. between ports of entry.

But Johan Decopin, a Haitian asylum-seeker who was returned to Mexico with her family, told Reuters she was left “with nothing” after meeting U.S. officials at the border.

“They threw away our clothes and my children’s shoes,” she said. “We asked for asylum, but they told us no.” So much for their Black lives!

The DHS for its part has essentially blamed the last administration, noting: “Our capacity at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years to our asylum system and infrastructure.”

Meza sees it differently. She told the Independent that the current deportation policies have been “inconsistently and discriminatorily applied” to Haitian migrants in recent days.

“DHS is not a rogue agency,” she said, differing with many who claim otherwise. “It is functioning exactly as it is intended to.”

When Biden was vice president in the Barack Obama administration, deportations were heavily ramped up, earning Obama the nickname, ‘Deporter-In-Chief.’

During his campaign for president, Biden worked hard to try to convince immigrant voters that his administration will be different. Many immigrant voters, especially Black immigrant voters from Africa and the Caribbean, gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, many argued, anyone would be better than Donald Trump, the xenophobe-in-chief.

But the Biden administration is already causing some to question that campaign promise. It is time for President Biden to rein in ICE and ensure the Obama nickname does not become his. The deportations must be halted until Congress has had time to get to the business of comprehensive immigration reform. Biden owes that much to Black immigrant voters who helped him make history, especially this Black History Month, when so many Black immigrants are putting their lives on the line in the pandemic to keep the economy running.

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow