By MP Ayanna Pressley and Reverend Dieufort Fleurissaint
Each year during the month of May, we honor Haitian Heritage Month and recognize the vast contributions of the Haitian diaspora across the Commonwealth and our nation.
Massachusetts 7e The Congressional District is home to one of the largest Haitian diaspora communities across the country and the impact of our Haitian neighbors is undeniable. From the historic election of Ruthzee Louijeunethe first Haitian-American to serve on the Boston City Council, in Marie-Sainte-Fleurthe first Haitian immigrant to hold public office in Massachusetts, our Haitian neighbors remind us daily of their rich culture, history, accomplishments and contributions.
While Haitian Heritage Month is an opportunity to recognize and honor our Haitian neighbors in the community with the accolades they deserve, it is also an opportunity to finally commit to needed policy change and long awaited.
For too long, US policies and relationships with the Haitian people have perpetuated anti-darkness and exacerbated injustice.
Last September, the brutalization of Haitians and other migrants at the Del Rio, Texas border shocked the world and shed new light on the role that US policy has played in destabilizing Haiti for decades. . We have seen harrowing images of thousands of Haitian migrants packed up under the Del Rio bridge and hunt with whippings on horseback by customs and border patrol agents, drawing stark parallels to our nation’s treatment of enslaved black people and ongoing instances of state violence. These devastating images have only shown the world what Haitians have known and lived for a long time.
Last summer, back-to-back calamities – including the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked the southern peninsula, and Tropical Storm Grace – exacerbated the destruction and violence on the island. Last year, the Biden administration extended Temporary Protected Status for Haitians based on “security concerns, social unrest, increased human rights abuses, crippling poverty and a lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic”. We strongly advocated for this and applauded the administration’s announcement at the time; however, despite the manifest worsening of these conditions on the island, the United States continued to deport thousands of Haitian migrants under the racist and xenophobic policy of Title 42.
A lasting solution will require the United States to withdraw its support for de facto leader Ariel Henry, who lacks legitimacy with the Haitian people, and instead partner with members of Haitian civil society working to end corruption and corruption. impunity that drives people to flee the island. .
Despite the threat of kidnappings and murders of activists and journalists, Haitian civic and political leaders from all walks of life came together to create the Montana Accord, a roadmap for a transitional government that would hold credible elections and restore constitutional government in Haiti. In an unprecedented show of unity, this effort garnered the support of more than 900 signatories, representing millions of Haitians, including most major political parties, religious and faith-based groups, labor unions, community organizations civil society and the business world. This massive political and popular mobilization highlights the deep and intertwined crises plaguing Haiti and the need for an inclusive civil society-led process to restore stability and democracy.
Now is the time to reaffirm that all black lives matter, including Haitian lives, and to pursue policies, both foreign and domestic, that reflect this truth. The Biden administration should use its authority to grant humanitarian parole to Haitian migrants in the United States, release those stranded in ICE custody, and end illegal deportations under Title 42 once and for all. noted former Special Envoy Daniel Foote in his September report resignation, “I do not believe that Haiti can enjoy stability until its citizens have the dignity to truly choose their own leaders in a fair and acceptable manner.” Haitians need to hear that the United States stands with courageous civil society and political leaders who are crafting an inclusive transition to democracy, not the same circle of corrupt politicians and wealthy oligarchs responsible for the violence and suffering Haiti is facing.
This Haitian Heritage Month, we stand together to celebrate community and work together for real and meaningful progress.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley represents Massachusetts’ seventh congressional district and is co-chair of the House Haiti Caucus. Reverend Dieufort Fleurissaint is a leader of the United Haitians Americans.