So moved by the images of the Texas Border Patrol agents on horseback using whips on Haitian men, women and children at the border, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and his son Jonathan Jackson late Monday night, September 27, called for hearings by both the Senate and the House on the shocking treatment of Haitians seeking asylum.
“Haiti helped to free Georgia. Haiti fought the battle of Savannah, Georgia. They helped to free Georgia and the Louisiana Purchase,” Rev. Jackson said.
He was referring to the Battle of Savannah, Georgia, which occurred from September 16 and October 18, 1779, labeled one of the bloodiest battles during the American Revolutionary War. The Haitians fought on U.S. soil and helped win that battle.
But, today, given the current crisis at the border, Rev. Jackson said the treatment of Haitians and the acceptance of Afghans seeking similar political asylum is starkly different and smacks of Trump’s unfair and racist immigration policy.
During the Monday press conference held at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters, Jackson was also joined by Bishop Tavis Grant, national field director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition; Karen Freeman-Wilson, President/CEO, Chicago Urban League, and Olivier Kamanzi, chairman for the African Diaspora Sixth Region Illinois Chapter.
Jonathan Jackson said the Biden administration is asking Congress to approve $6.4 billion to process Afghan allies overseas and in the United States, including security screenings and humanitarian aid. The funds are reportedly needed to help 65,000 at-risk Afghans come to the U.S. by the end of this month [September] and another 30,000 over the next year.
Jonathan Jackson said while the Afghans were offered refugee status, 16,000 Haitians were denied similar treatment and thousands were “tricked” and sent back home.
He called on elected officials to speak up and said, “Haitians are humans. Haiti has helped to free our country. We are indebted to Haiti. Jonathan Jackson said their silence on the mistreatment of Haitians “is a sign of betrayal.”
Having gone to Del Rio, Texas, last Thursday, September 23, along with Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Freddie D. Haynes, III, and Rev. Jamal Bryant, Jonathan Jackson said, “It was the worst I’ve seen. People were confined under a bridge. As a consequence, many of the medical conditions they had were respiratory because of asthma, bronchitis. They were sleeping on the dirt.”
He said the toilets and other comforts were on the American side and were secured, and on the other side, Haitians were living in squalor. By Friday, September 24, the remaining refugees were removed. Jonathan Jackson said during their confinement, 12 Haitian babies were born under that bridge.
He further explained about the debt owed to the Haitians saying, “The U.S. is owed the greatest debt to the Haitian people.”
He was referring to the Louisiana Purchase that occurred because France lost Haiti in the Haitian Revolution, and France suffered a huge financial loss forcing Napoleon to sell their North American colonies to the U.S.
The Haitians, Jonathan Jackson said, “put their blood, sweat and tears fighting in Savannah for the American public, and now [we are] here,” with the mistreatment of the Haitians at the border.
He called on elected officials to “speak up, speak out. Their silence is betrayal, and we seek to break that up.
“The Biden administration does not have to stick with the Trump policy of Title 42 with these mass expulsions against Haitians who are coming here after an earthquake and the assassination of their president.
In Afghanistan, they have not had an earthquake or an assassination of their president.” He said the Haitians qualify to seek political refuge.
Freeman-Wilson said, “There is a debt owed (to Haiti).” She said the current crisis at the border “is a call for humanitarian aid…to repay the Haitian people for what has been taken.”
Bishop Grant referred to the scene where the Texas Border Patrol agents riding horseback wielded whips against men, women and children as the Haitians attempted to cross a river to the U.S. border. That, he said, “was absolutely not acceptable, deplorable and inhumane.”
Grant called for a cease and desist of the rapid deportation he said is a clone of the Trump immigration policy.
And, about the clearing out of thousands of Haitians from under the Del Rio, Texas bridge, Bishop Grant said, “They are trying to make it appear that just because we don’t see them,” the problem is solved.
“They deserve asylum,” Grant said. “It is a humanitarian thing to do to respond to Rev. Jackson’s appeal and countless others who are seeking “the human right of due process.”
Calling the treatment of Haitians at the border “unfair,” Kamanzi said Haiti has applied to become a member of the African Union, which would give Haiti the resources they need.
Kamanzi is working with 55 African Ambassadors and that they are offering Haitians African citizenship. “Africa is their home. We want them to come back home,” Kamanzi said.
He also called on elected officials to speak up on behalf of the Haitians, whom he said, “should be respected.” Kamanzi also wants the city of Chicago to allow Haitians to come here.
Saying he, too, was shocked at the treatment of Haitians in Del Rio, Texas, as they waited to be processed, Kamanzi said Biden is in office today because of the Black vote. “To see how they are treating our Black Haitians is unacceptable.”