The Haiti whipping images prove what nobody wants to admit about Biden: On immigration, he’s as bad as Trump

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Haitian Migrants Photo Gallery (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Haitian Migrants Photo Gallery (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

When the country replaced President Trump with President Biden, many of us swore we remain vigilant and hold Biden just as accountable as his openly bigoted predecessor. When Trump was president, the country’s liberals and leftists constantly decried his oppressive policies, especially when it came to immigration. They — correctly — identified that the immigration holding facilities were, in fact, concentration camps and they frequently protested against “kids in cages.”

But on Monday, as I saw images of a border patrol officer seemingly whipping Black Haitian refugees at the US-Mexico border, it became apparent that we have failed to do what we said we would do. For Trump’s opponents, everything was in his power to change. He was the face of American cruelty. For Biden’s enablers, he’s simply a figurehead and admonishments are vaguely directed at the “government” or the “administration,” rather than Biden himself, who is the head of state.

Today, the US will get up in front of the UN General Assembly. Eloquent words will be spoken about how President Biden is attempting — and according to him, succeeding — at healing the country from the damage of a would-be dictator. They will speak about how justice and righteousness have returned to the US and how all who live here are now on the path to better lives. These will all be lies, and the evidence is splashed all over Twitter. There can be no justice in a country where Haitian refugees are subjected to the whip. And if there can be no justice, then we should not allow there to be any peace. Where is the collective rage that stoked the fires against Trump? We need it now, more than ever, with the world watching.

As a Black person whose family has endured the horrors of enslavement, colonization, and mass incarceration, this image was my nightmares come to life. It makes me weep with rage to know Black people are still being control with whip-like weapons just as our enslaved ancestors were; and it makes me furious that a few of us are given creature comforts and professional success to detract from the fact that little, as a whole, has changed.

If our present day holds uncanny similarities to the antebellum South, then it definitely holds uncanny similarities to the Trump era, which we only emerged from in January of this year. Instead of boorish bigotry, we’re being given politeness. But it feels like the same evil.

Asked about the whipping of Haitians at the border, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the footage was “horrible to watch” and that she “can’t imagine what the scenario is where that would be appropriate.” According to Politico, “she said if it was the case that whips were used as a coercive mechanism, ‘of course they should never be able to do it again.’” This stops just short of full-throated condemnation. While it may be enough for many, it personally only enrages me further. Immigrants and Black people deserve better than this.

While she was busy musing as to what may or may not be appropriate, Psaki did not address whether the Biden administration was going to continue deporting Haitians or offer them the refuge they deserve as human beings. “We are constantly assessing circumstances on the ground,” she said. “Obviously our objective here is not just to work to address the circumstances — which are very difficult — in Del Rio, but also to continue to work with the officials in Haiti to improve the conditions [and] to provide assistance. We’re doing all these pieces at the same time.”

Reading this, it’s impossible not to hear echoes of Vice President Kamala Harris’ callous statement back in June 2021. “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders. If you come to our border, you will be turned back,” she told would-be Guatemalan asylum-seekers then.

We switched administrations in January, and yet the US has not become any more hospitable towards those seeking safety from danger and a better life for their families. Of course, the words are kinder. The cages for kids have brightly-painted walls now. But the resounding message being sent — whether it’s delivered by whip-bearing Border Patrol officers, White House press secretaries, or elegant Vice Presidents — is “Do not come.”

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