Now is the time to voice our concerns about the impacts of US policy in Haiti.
If there is one thing that President Joe Biden’s mistreatment of the Haitian people demonstrates, it is that he has learned nothing from his failures in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, Biden failed to prepare for a migration crisis despite warnings that Afghan national security forces were unable to protect U.S. allies. In Haiti, where American allies have long lived without protection, it’s a similar story.
One would think that an influx of Haitian migration would be easy to predict after US-trained ex-Colombian soldiers allegedly assassinated the Haitian president in July and an earthquake in August destroyed more than 50,000 homes. . But Biden again failed to prepare, and the Haitian refugees were greeted at the US border by horsemen sent to escort them back.
Even before the onset of multiple crises in Haiti, Biden left the United States off guard by rejecting the border patrol’s request for additional resources. Further setting the stage for a border crisis, Biden decided in August to extend Title 42 of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Trump-era policy of immediately deporting migrants at the border.
At the start of last week, the Biden administration backed the policies of former President Donald Trump, boasting that “the majority of migrants continue to be deported under the authority of Title 42 of the CDC.” Ultimately, however, perhaps due to enormous public pressure, Biden refused to apply Title 42 widely and instead allowed the majority of Haitian refugees to enter the United States for asylum proceedings. .
Although a step in the right direction, this is far from the end of the story for Haitian migrants. Only a fraction of migrants are likely to obtain legal permission to reside in the United States, as less than twenty-seven percent of all asylum claims were approved in 2020.
Rather than focusing on caring for refugees throughout the asylum process, Biden now promises that he will charge border patrol officers for their contributions to the recent border crisis. The president is ready to put this disaster on the backs of a few working class men he ordained in a difficult situation, but don’t worry, he also assures us that he is taking responsibility.
Biden deserves praise for finally granting asylum hearings to most Haitian migrants. In addition, he restored protected status for Haitian immigrants to the United States to ensure that Haitians already living in the country will not be deported.
These legal protections are critically important to all Haitians, even those who stay in Haiti, as nearly a third of the Haitian economy comes from international wire transfers known as remittances. The United States is the largest source of remittances to Haiti, so every Haitian migrant allowed to enter the United States benefits their homeland.
All in all, however, Biden’s policies in Haiti expose the confusion and contradiction inherent in his presidency. Biden claims to reject a Trumpian presidency that puts the president’s ego ahead of human rights when he does the exact same thing.
In Afghanistan, Biden blindly followed Trump’s exit plan just as he blindly reapproved Trump’s Title 42 border policy. Then, when a foreseeable humanitarian crisis ensues, “Joe Biden the Humanitarian” seems to save the day.
Those of us who have long fought for the Haitian people and their causes see through this act of political theater. As Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry warned, the United States should expect an endless flow of Haitian migrants until Haiti changes internally.
“Biden the Humanitarian,” however, has already proven that he lacks the courage and political capital to break with the Trumpian policies he was elected to replace. So it makes no sense to expect Biden to fundamentally change the decades-old foundations of American law that impoverish Haiti.
Among these foundations of American economic policy is the Farm Bill, which subsidizes American farmers at such an unrealistic level that Haitians cannot compete with their American counterparts. Likewise, US trade policy extracts taxpayer dollars from Haitian businesses and from the few American businesses dedicated enough to be successful in Haiti.
Biden must eliminate these national tariffs and subsidies to support change in Haiti, but the national tariffs and subsidies satisfy the American people’s desire for policies that benefit American businesses, even if they come at the expense of free and fair markets. As such, the United States is unlikely to see these fundamental policy changes for decades, if ever.
Meanwhile, US domestic and foreign policy will continue to perpetuate foreign poverty. Migrants from impoverished countries will continue to seek refuge in the United States, and this predictable cycle will continue to hamper American presidents who are unable to diagnose the problems they are elected to solve.
As confused as Biden’s foreign policy may seem, it is clear from his decision not to apply Title 42 to Haitian migrants that he is ready to listen to the demands of the American people. Defenders of Haitian causes would be wise to use this to their advantage. Now is the time to express concerns about the impacts of US policy in Haiti. The president may learn slowly, but as long as he has an open mind, there is hope for our Haitian neighbors.
Samuel Teixeira was born in New London, Connecticut, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2015 with a BA in Government. He is a contributor to Young Voices.