National outcry rises for end to double standard at U.S. border crossings

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Migrants, mostly Haitians, forced by U.S. border patrol to wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Sept. 21, 2021, to avoid deportation from the U.S. The U.S. flew over 17,000 Haitians camped on the Texas border back to their homeland and blocked others from crossing over from Mexico. (AP photo/Fernando Llano)

March 11 at the U.S. border in San Diego was a glaring lesson in contrasts. While border agents were waving hundreds of Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers through the passageways, they were also coldly bypassing or turning back the thousands of Black and Brown  people who had been waiting at the border for hours, if not for days, or longer. 

Thanks to a March 11, 2022 memo from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) executive secretary,  a letter not meant for public disclosure, the act of apparent discrimination was legal.

CBP is authorized, the memo stated,  “to except Ukrainian nationals at land border ports of entry from Title 42.”

Title 42 was the contrived medical excuse employed by the Trump administration to exclude unwanted emigrants by associating them with the COVID-19 pandemic and calling them a health threat to the American public.  

Within the same time frame that saw Ukrainians welcomed to the U.S., over 17,000 Haitian men, women, and children were hastily rounded up in Del Rio, TX, and other refugee encampments and forcibly flown back to Haiti under the authority of Title 42. In many cases, Homeland Security was able to use its authority to eliminate any threats to the nation’s security posed by the migrants of any creed or color.

Radio talk show host Joe Madison says the double standard is the work of certain devious minds in charge of government policy. 

“The people who control the message control the media,” Madison said in an April 6 interview with The Grio. “They identify with the Ukrainians but they don’t identify with the Haitians – and that’s what’s driving this. Nobody should be turned away.”



Gurlene Jozef, president of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a humanitarian and legal support nonprofit for Haitians, said on the syndicated broadcast “Democracy Now” that she was dismayed at the different treatment of Ukrainians with that of Haitians that she had seen on her TV screen. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Black people either visiting or living in Ukraine were initially blocked from evacuating the attacked areas. But the Ukrainian refugees who had kept Blacks trapped in their homeland were being given preferential treatment at the U.S. borders. 

“I want to make it clear that we stand 100 percent with the people of Ukraine,” Jozef said. “And we are 100 percent with the president and the administration for welcoming the people of Ukraine. But we all saw how Black people who were trying to escape Ukraine were pushed back in and were not afforded protection. Why is it that when it comes to people of color, Black and Brown people, we must continue to push and beg to validate our humanity?”

She then mentioned the picture of Joe Biden in Poland giving comfort to a Ukrainian toddler. “It really warmed my heart to see how the president was holding that little girl, smiling. At the same time, I couldn’t pass over the fact that they are really chasing and whipping and turning away little Black girls and little Black boys at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

The Haitian Bridge Alliance filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in December 2021 on behalf of eleven Haitian asylum seekers who were subjected to abusive treatment in the Del Rio encampment and were expelled without an opportunity to apply for U.S. asylum.


One of the factors controlling U.S. border policy is the “R-word – race,” says Bill Chandler, executive director of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) based in Jackson. 

“Why are the Ukrainians being welcomed into the U.S. while other migrants are pushed away?” Chandler asks rhetorically. “That’s part of the racist system. The presumption is that it’s easier to integrate white immigrants into the community than it is for Black and Brown. 

“Historically, it’s been a problem with immigrants coming from Cuba and/or Haiti and the Caribbean.  If you are a white Cuban, the law allows that if you set foot on the U.S. land then you’re welcomed. You’re given a speedy direction to residency and citizenship.  On the other hand, when Haitians or other Caribbean people come, they’re immediately captured and deported. And oftentimes under brutal means of control.  That’s because they’re Black.” 

Chicago has had a Ukrainian community for decades, he says. Their presence there can be used as a metric as to how the new Ukrainian immigrants might act or conduct themselves as residents there, particularly with their religious affiliation and the attitudes they have towards other people. 


As a board member of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), Chandler joined in on the organization’s July 8 Zoom discussion of the recent death of 51 Hispanic migrants found in the back of a semi-truck near San Antonio. 

“We were brainstorming about strategies to use with the border deaths,” he said. “It was a three-day meeting. We’ve developed a map showing all the different places migrants have died trying to get into the U.S. We even had one death in Mississippi.  But most of the other deaths took place in Arizona, in Texas, particularly South Texas all along the border. The map identifies each body and the towns where they were found.”

Alma Maquitico, co-director of NNIRR, says that large groups of migrants, increasingly non-Mexican, are flowing into Texas and are frequently dying in remote areas.

“Every week, NNIRR and other grassroots groups along the border assist families searching for missing migrants,” Maquitico said in a July 1 press release from El Paso. “Some are found at hospitals or detention centers. Frequently, we have to inform families that their sons or daughters disappeared along the desert. These families do not have a visa to come to the U.S. to visit morgues or search the trails where their loved ones were last seen. The pain and trauma are unquantifiable.” 

Eddie Canales, the director of the South Texas Human Rights Center, says, “Our mission is to end death and suffering on the Texas/Mexico border through community initiatives.” 

Canales, a former chair of NNIRR, set up the project to save the lives of  migrants passing through Brooks County, the poorest and deadliest county in South Texas, Chandler said. 

“Many migrants go through Brooks County to avoid the border checkpoints,” said Chandler. “There’s so much sand there; it’s very difficult to walk. It’s like walking on the beach.”

Although both King’s Ranch and the Mariposa Ranch are in Brooks County, it is still one of the poorest counties in Texas. A little over 88 percent of the population is Latino. A 2014 documentary, “Missing in Brooks County,” called the county the “epicenter” of America’s immigration problem, the “Death Valley” for immigrants. Between 2009 and 2018, over 600 bodies were recovered from Brooks County, the documentary noted.

Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez said the corpses never found outnumbered those found by five or 10 times. 

“Eddie wants to place 55-gallon drums filled with gallon bottles of water and put them in the underbrush,” Chandler said. “And he wants to use long poles with flags in the air to help migrants find the water. Many of the ranchers have been cooperative because they don’t want to find bodies on their land. So, they have helped with that plan.”


The Zero Tolerance policy put in place by Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first attorney general, is no longer the hot topic it was when Sessions was in charge. Nevertheless, it has remained a central part of immigration policy enforcement along the Mexican border even after Sessions’ forced resignation in November 2018, says NNIRR.

“‘Zero tolerance’ has actually been the official immigration control policy for many years,” NNIRR reports. “It was behind the creation of ‘Operation Streamline’ (2005), which criminalized border crossing without immigration documents. Under Operation Streamline, undocumented border crossers have been subject to ‘expedited removal,’ rapidly processed in large groups with little or no access to due process. ‘Illegal entry and re-entry’ became prosecutable in criminal courts, rather than in immigration courts, with a re-entry violation categorized as a felony, resulting in imprisonment. The Sessions decision applied to the prosecution of all border crossers – including asylum seekers.”



Chandler says he believes the changing population statistics is causing high anxiety for many white people.

“One of the things that’s really alarming the white supremacists is that there has been a major growth in the population of Latinos and indigenous people here in Mississippi,” Chandler said. “That’s what’s alarming the white supremacists. You’ve heard of the ‘replacement theory.’ Well, that’s one of the things they’re worried about. We think the diverse population is a benefit to our state.

“But that’s not how they think. All our statewide governing officials are into that ideology – the attorney general, the secretary of state, the lieutenant governor, and the rest of them. And of course, the governor is blatant about it. The lieutenant governor seems to be more of a thinking right winger than the others.” 

Racial fear mongering was promoted by Trump and his minions, always playing to the sensitivities of the wary white citizens who feared losing their status, minimal as it might be, among a population that would make them a minority. During the Trump administration, there were almost daily preachments about a massive caravan of refugees streaming through Mexico to flood across the borders of the United States. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Maria Hinojosa made the trek with the aspiring migrants in 2020-21 and debunked the notion of a flood of immigrants in a series of podcasts that followed her march.

“Donald Trump raised this whole specter of the caravan. But, how many U.S. government officials, human rights officials have been with a caravan so that they can see what I saw? It is a caravan of love. It is a caravan of solidarity. It is the place, when you are traveling through Mexico, if you are Black – as increasingly the migrants and refugees are – the caravan is the only place that you will feel safe. These immigrants, migrants, and refugees are the smartest people when they decide to join a caravan. 

“The fact that the United States mainstream media and the government has chosen to portray the caravans as filled with scary, terrible people who are going to force their way onto the border, it’s not true. That’s not what they’re doing. They are exactly as the Ukrainian refugees are right now. They are desperate, and they are looking to a country that says they will accept them.

“What we are seeing,”  Hinojosa says, “is white supremacy in the context of refugees and desperate people.”

Republish This Story

Copy and Paste the below text.

National outcry rises for end to double standard at U.S. border crossings

By Earnest McBride
July 18, 2022