More than a dozen elected officials of color from Boston on Wednesday condemned the Biden administration’s treatment of Haitian immigrants seeking shelter in the United States.
The officials called the handling of the crisis “reprehensible,” barbaric,” and racist, and they demanded the administration to act urgently to provide asylum for Haitians seeking refuge.
Images of US Border Patrol agents on horseback, pushing back Haitian migrants crossing the Rio Grande in Texas to try to reach US soil, have prompted outrage from around among Democratic politicians around the country and among Massachusetts’ Haitian diaspora.
“These barbaric actions and calloused policies are an affront on American values and must not be tolerated,” the 16 local elected officials in a joint statement which also described the administration’s actions towards Haitian migrants as “rooted in systemic racism and anti-Blackness.”
Signatories include: mayoral candidates Annissa Essaibi-George and Michelle Wu; city councilors Andrea Campbell, Ricardo Arroyo, Julia Mejia, and Lydia Edwards; state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz; state representatives Chynah Tyler and Russell Holmes, and District Attorney Rachael Rollins.
The statement comes as more than 15,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, are settled in a makeshift camp in Del Rio, Texas. Haitians, fleeing a country plunged into turmoil by a devastating earthquake and hurricane, and the assassination of its president, are being detained and deported by the Biden administration, which is enforcing a Trump-era order to expel migrants without allowing them to apply for asylum.
The Boston elected officials called on President Biden to halt deportations, recognize Haitian immigrants’ legal status, and “hold those responsible for inhumane treatment accountable for their actions.”
“The US Customs and Border Patrol Agents who whipped and intimidated these immigrants should be fired, and our policies should be changed to prevent any such situation from arising in the future,” the statement said.
Julia Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.