By Pete Seidman
NORTH MIAMI, Florida, September 29, 2021—About fifty people gathered today outside City Hall here to protest the outrageous mistreatment of Haitians by the U.S. government at the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border. Protesters demanded equal treatment for Haitian asylum seekers, and the immediate disclosure of the whereabouts of the nearly 15,000 refugees who were removed from the border by federal authorities and many of them deported.1
A coalition of community groups in a city with one of the highest percentage of Haitians in the country called the rally on very short notice. “Stop the Flights, Do What’s Right,” the crowd chanted. “We Stand with the Migrants,” and “Stop Deportations, Save the Haitians!”
The event was chaired by Dr. Naomi Blemur, co-founder of Balancing Life. Blemur outlined the deepening crisis in Haiti: the assassination of a sitting president in July, a subsequent 7.2 earthquake, and now some 15,000 migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.—many of whom have already been deported to Haiti.
She condemned President Biden for “betraying the trust of the Haitian people. You came to Little Haiti during your campaign. You got down on your knee and asked for our support, in effect giving us a check. But when we came to you last week to ask for help in Texas, when we went to cash the check—it bounced, coming back marked insufficient funds!
“You packed up those who were seeking asylum and deposited them back in Port Au Prince as if they were cargo,” Blemur said. “You were no different than the Trump administration and Trump himself, who called us a shithole of a country.”
Christie Olivo, who is running in next August’s Democratic Party primary to represent the 24th Congressional District, just returned from the border where she had gone to rescue a cousin.
She described the terrifying things she saw. “Cellphones taken away from people so they had no way to contact their families. Mothers who miscarried under the Del Rio Bridge who were sent for care to Mexico instead of hospitals in the U.S. Parents unable to find children who were taken away.” She reminded the crowd that the men seen being whipped by U.S. immigration police on horseback were simply trying to bring food back to their hungry families.
Gepsie Metalus from SANTLA, a community organization, compared what was happening to Haitians at the border to what happened to the Jewish refugees who were turned away from the U.S. border and perished in the Holocaust. “We’re afraid now we will be hearing similar stories,” she warned.
Metalus condemned the Biden Administration for continuing to use Title 42 of the U.S. immigration code in the same way as the Trump administration did to deport Haitians at the border. She demanded that Biden fulfill his campaign promise to reinstate the Haitian Family Parole Program that the Trump Administration crippled in 2017.
Other speakers included local religious leaders; Thomas Kennedy, a member of the Democratic Party National Committee; Francois Alexandre, a candidate for the City of Miami Commission, District 5; Hector Medina; and Pete Seidman, speaking on behalf of the U.S. Hands Off Cuba and Venezuela South Florida Coalition.
“The U.S. government has primary responsibility for the crises forcing so many to flee their homeland,” said a statement in English and Haitian Creole that members of the U.S. Hands Off Cuba and Venezuela coalition distributed at the event. “Washington intervenes heavily in Haiti to support corrupt governments that have stolen millions of dollars from ALBA.2 That money was supposed to subsidize social services for the people. The U.S. has directly invaded Haiti and supported the presence of UN troops. These operations brought repression, political intervention, and cholera. They did not help the people of Haiti.
“Earthquakes and hurricanes are called natural disasters. But it is the people who suffer the most because the political and social structure imposed and supported by the U.S. fails to provide genuine relief.
“Human solidarity demands that the border not be used to further Washington’s attempts to criminalize the victims of its cruel policies.”
 The Department of Homeland Security announced on September 24 that “nearly 30,000 migrants have been encountered at Del Rio since September 9th, with the highest number at one time reaching approximately 15,000.” It also said that 2,000 had been deported to Haiti on 17 flights, 8,000 returned to Haiti “voluntarily,” and 17,400 incarcerated at federal detention centers where their cases for asylum may be heard. For more information see, “Protesters Demand Asylum for Haitian Refugees.“
 ALBA is the Spanish-language acronym of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. It was originally founded by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela in 2004. Its member states are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela. Ecuador withdrew from the group in August 2018.
Categories: Immigration / Refugees