A Word On Our Treatment Of Haitian Refugees

A Word On Our Treatment Of Haitian Refugees September 23, 2021

I want to say a few words about our treatment of refugees.

I’ve written about our treatment of refugees many times. This time, I’m responding to our treatment of refugees from Haiti. And I’m using the word “our” very deliberately, because the United States is supposed to be a representative democracy. What our government, its law enforcement and its military do is done in our name because we vote. When they do something wrong, we do something wrong. The sins the United States commits against helpless people are our sins, because we’re the United States.

In the past week, we’ve all seen the images of Hatian refugees being pursued by Border Patrol officers with what looked like whips. The usual cranks reassured us that the officers were whipping the terrified men with their horse’s REINS and not actual WHIPS, as if that changed anything.

Hopefully, you’ve also seen the images of desperate Haitians being turned out of an airplane at Port-au-Prince, their belongings thrown out after them, and the refugees scrambling around the tarmac to collect their things.

These are desperate people who came to us for asylum in a time of great need. In order to apply for asylum, you have to be in the country you’re applying to, so they came here in compliance with the law. They camped on our border. And we– we, the United States, you and I, charged them with horses and whipped them with reins. We deported them by the thousands. We coldly deposited them back in a country where they will be hurt or killed. We did this to people who needed our help.

And now, almost comically, the White House is announcing that Border Patrol officers will no longer ride horses, to keep this from happening again.

I’m surely not the first person to opine that the horses were not  the problem.

The horses didn’t voluntarily charge a gaggle of frightened refugees. The horses didn’t whip anyone. The horses didn’t arrest anyone. The horses didn’t put anybody on a plane, force them to return to the country they fled in desperation, and throw their belongings onto the tarmac before taking off again. We did that. If the Border Patrol did not have horses to ride, they would still abuse refugees. If the border were patrolled by riderless horses, on the other hand, the refugees would be safe. Horses are the last thing they need to eliminate.

Insofar as I’m famous at all, I became famous as a Catholic blogger for insisting that Donald Trump was a bad person and Catholics shouldn’t vote for him. I stand by that. But over the past nine months, there has been a very strange tendency  to act as if Trump is Voldemort and he’s going to come back if we say anything that isn’t complimentary about a democrat. I refuse to participate in that superstition. I’m not a political shill, I’m a Christian, and Christians are supposed to speak out against injustice. I criticized Trump for his many atrocities against immigrants and now I’m doing the same for the next president. The Biden administration is doing a terrible job on immigration. I don’t care whether it’s a better job than Trump did, I don’t care whether it’s taking him extra long to clean up the mess Trump made. We elected him to do a job, it’s not an acceptable job he’s doing, and that’s all that matters. It’s inhumane to treat people who come to us for help this way and it has to stop.

As I write this, the news has broken that the United States’s special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, has resigned in disgust. I can’t write a better reaction to the situation than he did: “I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs to daily life. Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”

I would also like to include a few words from the Holy Bible, since Biden is a fellow Catholic and so many Americans on both sides of the political aisle wave the Bible as an excuse for the way that they vote:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.  The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly,  if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm,  then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I don’t think there’s anything unreasonable about any of that.




image via pixabay

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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