Our Voices

The Racist and Illegal Expulsion of Black Migrants in Del Rio

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights condemns the egregious human rights abuses and racist treatment of Haitians and other Black migrants at the Texas-Mexico border, part of a “comprehensive strategy” by the Department of Homeland Security to expel thousands of asylum-seeking families and adults who had crossed into the United States near a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

Working in partnership with Haitian Bridge Alliance, RFK Human Rights staffers spoke with more than two dozen people in Del Rio, none of whom have had a credible fear interview or any screening for viable legal claims, including asylum and protection under the Convention Against Torture. RFK Human Rights staff also report multiple instances of family separation, with several grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings still unaccounted for in ICE’s detention database.

Many of the Haitians who have gathered in Del Rio were previously living in Mexico, in precarious conditions for years, waiting for an opportunity to lawfully request asylum at the U.S. border. U.S. policies, including Title 42 and “metering,” block people from seeking asylum at ports of entry in violation of U.S. law, create disorder, and push people to undertake dangerous, and increasingly deadly, crossings often at the mercy of violent gangs that control much of the border. Now, thousands of migrants and asylum seekers are trapped in this makeshift encampment, with extremely limited access to food, drinking water, clothing, and shelter.

Those who try to bring back desperately needed supplies have been met with brutal force by law enforcement. The abhorrent and shocking images of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers whipping Haitians crossing the river are starkly reminiscent of slavery-era brutality and illustrate the anti-Black racism at the core of our U.S. immigration system.

In May 2021, the Biden administration designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, recognizing that an escalating political crisis and increase in human rights abuses prevent Haitian nationals from safely returning. Since that designation just four months ago, the conditions in Haiti have continued to rapidly deteriorate following the assisination of President Jovenel Moïse in July and a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August, followed by a tropical storm.

It is clear that Haiti is in no position to handle the return of thousands of deported migrants. In late August, we joined 344 organizations in sending a letter to the Biden administration calling for an immediate halt of all deportations to the country. Despite these urgent, collective calls, in an act of unconscionable cruelty, last week, the Biden administration began deporting Haitians en masse, including asylum seekers and families with infants. Six deportation flights per day are expected to arrive in Haiti for the next three weeks.

The ongoing human rights abuses at the U.S.-Mexico border are the clear results of centuries of white supremacy, inhumane exploitation, and anti-Black racism in our U.S. immigration system. For those looking to support relief efforts, we are currently on the ground helping Haitian migrants and asylum seekers in Del Rio, Texas, alongside our partner, Haitian Bridge Alliance. Please consider donating to support this critical work: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/supporthaitians