In the wake of a previous administration heavily criticized for its treatment of immigrants, President Joe Biden ran on a platform to fundamentally uplift the current immigration system and expedite the process for immigrants to become legal U.S. citizens. Per his campaign’s website, he promised to modernize our immigration system, welcome immigrants in our communities and reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees. “It’s wrong,” asserts an official campaign statement on Trump-era policy, “and it stops when Joe Biden is elected president.”
However, photographs circulating from the U.S. Southern border last Saturday reveal that President Biden has not only betrayed those who voted for him but also the very immigrants he swore to protect.
These images depict what appear to be border agents wielding whips fending the American-Mexican border against Haitian migrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande. Although these “whips” have been clarified as reins used to control horses, and were reportedly not used directly on any migrants, the photographs still depict the burgeoning crisis.
It is clear that migrants escaping a nation still reeling from a recent presidential assassination and catastrophic earthquake are being treated with hostility rather than compassion by the U.S. federal government.
The U.S. has long neglected Haitian asylum-seekers since the 1990s, when they were regularly held at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Carl Lindskoog, a history professor at Raritan Valley Community College who’s researched Haitian immigration claims that “policies were specifically designed to deter Haitians from coming in. These policies became the prototype for what became a global system of migrant incarceration.”
Lindskoog’s statement remains relevant today. It is estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 migrants are currently residing in a makeshift camp at a small border town in Texas, and hundreds have been bussed into other Texan cities. Countless other migrants have been intimidated back to Mexico or are being refused asylum. The U.S. border patrol has allowed limited migrants, mostly families with children, to stay in the country, although they have 60 days to appear before an immigration office for further determination.
What we are witnessing is neither a modern nor humane way to welcome immigrants to the United States. NAACP president Derrick Johnson has publicly invited President Biden to meet about the inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants.
Johnson, like many others, believes Saturday’s images reflect federal law enforcement’s historically unjust treatment of people of color. He refutes what Biden and many progressive Democrats asserted after the 2020 election: that this new administration would bring an end to inhumane practices at the southern border.
Mass internment camps still exist. Mistreatment and disease among groups of immigrants are still rampant. Asylum is still rejected for most migrants. Most problematic Obama and Trump-era immigration policies are still in place. Saturday’s images unearth a truth about Biden’s border policies in practice: he doesn’t seem to have any. Despite asserting on Friday that responsible border agents “will pay,” Biden has made no immediate indication that he plans to enact any policy which fulfills his campaign promises. The heinous pictures we’ve seen this week, of which are likely to continue, are a direct byproduct of the Biden administration’s continued apathy toward our Southern border.