Obama's contradictory stance toward black asylum seekers


Last week President Barack Obama hosted a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees as part of his final presidential duties at the United Nations General Assembly. During the summit, President Obama called on fellow member nations to make a greater commitment to addressing the record-breaking numbers of displaced people worldwide. Urging cooperation and “open arms” during his remarks, he  conveniently neglected to mention the plight of thousands of Haitian migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, just days after the meeting where 193 countries adopted theNew York Declaration, aimed at improving the lives of the 65.3 million people forcibly displaced due to political crises and wars, the Obama Administration’s own Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced thatit will expedite the deportation of nearly 3,000 Haitian migrants, including asylum seekers,that sought entry into the country through the U.S.-Mexico border over the summer, arriving now at the rate of over 100 per day.

Far from the refuge and aid Obama urged at United Nations, this shift in policy towards survivors of the 2010 earthquake slams the door shut on thousands of desperate men, women and children. AsMarleine Bastien of Haitian Women of Miami and Steven Forester of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti recently decried in the Miami Herald, this decision is inhumane. Obama’s decision is not only unconscionable, but the ultimate contradiction. Our nation’s first black president, himself the child of an immigrant, turning his back on thousands of black immigrants in their time of need at the end of a presidential term where he has repeatedly made claims to progress on immigration represents a disparity of the highest order.

Ironically, it  is America’s own actions that have brought Haitian migrants to our borders, both through a legacy of intrusive policy and the continued undermining of Haitian sovereignty. For these reasons and more, the Obama Administration is obligated to extend humanitarian service to this vulnerable population without delay, and must direct DHS to reverse its decision to resume deportations to Haiti.

The influx of Haitian migrants crossing at the U.S. - Mexico border is neither routine nor driven by self-interest, but a direct result of 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 has produced delays in Haiti’s own presidential transition. These conditions have forced tens of thousands to seek work in Brazil and Venezuela, and then makea harrowing, 7,000 mile journey norththrough Latin America as their only chance for safety and security, while the countries they traverse through experienceeconomic and political turmoil as well.  It is truly deplorable that the administration would now criminalize the victims of our harmful policies through punitive enforcement and deportation after all they have already been through.

Read the entire commentary here: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/298266-black-lives-matter-co-founder-obama-stance-on-black-asylum-is

Posted in