BLM Co-Founder: Trump Admin's Haiti Emails Perpetuate the Myth of the 'Black Criminal'


Black immigrants are once again in the cross-hairs of the federal government’s racist and xenophobic immigration policies. Last week, via e-mails uncovered by the Associated Press, we learned that the Trump Administration is considering ending a detrimental humanitarian protection afforded thousands Haitian immigrants, based on a ubiquitous, racist stereotype of Black migrants in particular — the myth of the Black criminal.

According to the Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security is searching for evidence of criminal convictions of Haitian immigrants as it weighs whether to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is set to expire in July. If TPS were to expire, nearly 50,000 immigrants would be sent back to Haiti. Haiti continues to suffer from a poor physical infrastructure, a public health crises, the effects of a catastrophic earthquake, a recent hurricane and a food insecurity crisis. These conditions are exacerbated by political turmoil in the country which emerged after the Haiti’s recent presidential elections. There’s a broad consensus that Haiti lacks the physical and social infrastructure to accept new arrivals if the U.S. were to terminate TPS.

 Haiti first received TPS on January 21, 2010, following a catastrophic earthquake that left an estimated 1.5 million displaced and the death of thousands of Haitians (estimates vary; the UN estimated the death toll to be around 220,000 people, while the Haitian government has put the figure at 316,000). The country experienced irreparable damage to its infrastructure, including electricity, water, telephone services, hospitals, government buildings, roads, bridges, and the international airport.

The progress in improving Haiti’s conditions has been slow and uneven and is a direct result of current and historical destructive policies and practices to undermine and destabilize Haiti’s political and economic stability for U.S. interests. Since the 2010 earthquake, private entities such as the Clinton Foundation and the Red Cross have initiated land grabs, wasted millions on ineffective “recovery” efforts, and contributed to corporate-backed political candidates in Haiti’s elections, a move that had produced delays in Haiti’s own presidential transition. There are people still living in tents due to slow reconstruction. The deadly cholera outbreak, caused by UN forces, has yet to be adequately addressed; in fact, the UN has just recently admitted wrongdoing. And years-long delays of Haiti’s presidential election has caused massive social unrest. Despite these treacherous conditions, last fall the U.S. began accelerating deportations of Haitian immigrants.

The U.S. has long characterized Haitian immigrants as criminals. Haitians are subjected to a U.S. immigration policy that is particularly unusual. The tradition of labeling Haitians as lawbreakers began in 1963 when the first boat of Haitians seeking political asylum was summarily rejected by U.S. immigration officials, while at the same time the U.S. admitted thousands of Cubans as refugees and political asylum-seekers. This practice continues with the detaining and deporting of Haitians in disproportionate numbers. The U.S. has exported these punitive, anti-Haitian practices throughout the Caribbean by training immigration enforcement officers in the region and directly supporting the building of border walls and detention centers in the Dominican Republic. The U.S.’ refusal to acknowledge the plight of displaced Haitians and maintaining inhumane practices of neglect, disrespect and violence amounts to a gross violation of human rights.

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