In his first press conference since taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden was rightfully peppered with questions on immigration. Rightfully so, considering the disaster––not crisis––at the U.S.’ Southern Border.
The trouble was that the reporters focused on this issue were more concerned about the influx into the U.S. by unaccompanied children and their subsequent detention, rather than the deportation of many immigrants back into Mexico.
Most of all, lost in the focus, was the fact that not all of those trying to come into the U.S. from Mexico are Central Americans. There are also many from the Caribbean and Africa.
There are Haitians, Cubans and Africans from Congo and Cameroon who are also trying to enter the U.S. from the Southern Border after trekking through Colombia, Panama and Guatemala to get to Mexico and present themselves for asylum at the U.S. Border.
However, President Biden at no time mentioned this group and neither did the reporters. Biden’s only focus was on Central America and helping the countries there, which he feels is the only way to stem the crisis. There was nothing on helping the African and Caribbean countries in crisis, which is forcing many to seek a better life.
The administration seems content to use the same Donald Trump era Title 42 immigration policy they had slammed, which prohibits entry of persons from Mexico and Canada into the U.S. because of COVID-19. Using Title 42, the Biden administration is deporting many back to Mexico, including Haitians.
According to a recent report titled: “The Invisible Wall: Title 42 and its Impact on Haitian Migrants,” by the Haitian Bridge Alliance, The Quixote Center and The UndocuBlack Network, hundreds of Haitians have been expelled to Mexico.
“More Haitians have been removed per the Title 42 policy in the weeks since President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office than during all of Fiscal Year 2020,” the recently released report notes.
Reuters news last month reported that U.S. authorities returned dozens of Haitians to the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez from El Paso, Texas, a move that appeared to contradict a policy agreement in place with Mexico brokered under the previous U.S. administration.
The news agency also spotlighted on a heart wrenching case recently of pregnant Haitian migrant, Nehemie Montrose, who Border Patrol separated from her husband in custody. When she awoke and asked about her husband, she was told he was gone. It was only days later that she learnt he was in custody in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Mississippi.
Many of these Black migrants, returned to Mexico––a country they are not from and where they don’t even speak the language––become vulnerable to dangerous cartel violence or a life on the street.
As Luis Garcia, a director at the Chihuahua state government agency COESPO in Mexico, which oversees attention to migrants, summed it up: “The situation seems somewhat extraordinary for us, because they don’t speak Spanish, and it puts them in a situation in which they are increasingly exposed to risk.”
I agree with the U.S. administration that there cannot be open season at the border but the U.S. needs to also be addressing issues of economic concern in Africa and the Caribbean as well.
I hope the new immigration czar appointed by the president, Caribbean roots U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, would also notice this trend at the border and suggest a way of helping nations in these regions as well, to stop the exodus.
This is not only a Central American problem. It is a U.S. Third Border problem that must be addressed with the U.S. paying more attention to this region than it has ever done in the past.
However, I won’t hold my breath!
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow