Everyone knows about today's Ukraine crisis. News reports upon news reports have been made about how Ukrainian citizens are being terrorized and shamed in their communities by Russian forces. The western powers (US, Britain, EU) publicly condemned Russia's actions and the US has made substantial efforts to aid innocent citizens in the crises. The problem has escalated to the point where their home is inhabitable, causing Ukrainians to come to the United States and be rightfully supported with resources and refuge. This is not the case for other migrants or refugee seekers, such as Haitians, who are living in a similar situation, to receive the same level of courtesy. Why have Ukrainians been supported so quickly while different ethnicities struggle to get the same support they deserve? Each minority group should be entitled to the same support and agenda as the Ukrainians. This fits in with the racism and unequal treatment prevalent in the United States for a long time. While Ukrainian refugees deserve all the support they are receiving from the US, the difference between the treatment of different migrant groups shows that the US has a long way to go.
With the Ukraine crisis ongoing, the US has set out to support Ukrainian forces while combating Russia in numerous ways. The United States is committed to providing shelter and housing for incoming migrants as they find their way across borders. The Biden administration announced it is offering Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to certain Ukrainians already present in the United States if they meet certain requirements. In months to come Ukrainians who entered the U.S. with immigrant visas or through the refugee admissions program have a direct path to permanent residency and ultimately, U.S. citizenship. Over 100,000 displaced Ukrainians were welcomed into the US in five months as of July 30th, 2022. Not only that but Children and Family Protection Support Hubs have been equipped with mental health professionals, case workers, and legal aid providers available for vulnerable populations (children, female primary house providers, disabled persons, and the elderly.) Other programs, such as the “Unite for Ukraine” program, will help Ukrainians apply for asylum more easily, by following the simplified eligibility checklist.
The Ukrainians being welcomed with open arms by the US is a luxury Haitian migrants have never been able to achieve. The unethical deportation rates of Haitians searching for a better life in America have been a pressing issue for years. The mass expulsions from Del Rio of September 2021 are a prime example of how the US doesn't want to deal with Haitian immigrants. Over 12 thousand migrants camped by a Del Rio bridge were taken and expelled from Texas. The US military deported them to Haiti which has been rendered inhabitable in many places due to a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shattering through yards of land. More than 83,000 homes were damaged, and 54,000 homes were completely destroyed. It is common for homes in Haiti to have large openings on the ground floor giving them limited reinforcement, and making them prone to damage. There is a high risk of serious damage to them during earthquakes. Sending them back avoids the problem altogether.
Like Ukraine, Haiti has been rendered unstable on many levels such as economically and politically. The U.S. has broadcasted many of the dehumanizing acts of Russian forces to expose them to their destabilizing plans. On the official website of the U.S. government, a specific page is dedicated to Ukrainian struggles due to Russian propaganda against Ukraine. Haitians however, do not have the same extensive coverage. The page that references Ukraine issues outlines the struggles they've had that render their land uninhabitable. A similar page should be dedicated to the Haitians. Even though they're not at odds with any other country, life in Haiti is always extremely difficult, if not entirely dysfunctional. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, more than half the population lives in poverty, relying heavily on outside forces to function. This fact just reiterates the pressing issue that Haitians need to flee their home country to avoid harm.
The Biden Administration used a federal health official power known as “Title 42” which is a Public Health Service Act that gives federal officials the power during the pandemic to take extraordinary measures to limit transmissions of disease. This included the stopping of immigration and the expelling of immigrants. The Biden administration used this power to expel tens of thousands of adults and family immigrants over months. They claim it's a public health measure and not an immigration policy. However, former federal health officials told the former Trump administration no evidence invoking “Title 42” would slow the coronavirus when he put it into effect during his presidency. When it came to Haitians they were quick to employ this power, but Ukrainians didn't have to worry about being stunted by this. As of March 11th, 2022, the Biden administration made Ukrainians exempt from Title 42 on a case-by-case basis. This is great for many fleeing Ukraine to seek asylum in America, but the same courtesy was not extended to other asylum seekers, no matter what their case was.
The US has mistreated migrants for a long time, so the current Ukrainian favoritism isn't surprising. Many important figures of the US like current president Joe Biden have poorly spoken about migrants on several occasions. Biden openly says to not show up at the border, deterring any Haitian asylum seekers coming from broken homes. It's not only Haitian migrants but other ethnicities as well. Minorities such as Syrians and Chinese have faced struggles in the history of America. Asians were barred from immigrating to the US due to exclusionary provisions deeming them “aliens ineligible to citizenship.” This exclusion wasn’t removed from immigration law until the 1995 Immigration Act.
It would be wrong to say that the US shouldn't help Ukrainians as much as they are currently. The Ukraine crisis is a very pressing issue and they deserve all the support they can get plus more, but the problem is the struggle to let other migrants in. There are aids for these immigrants so why not welcome them with open arms just as Ukrainians are? Every immigrant wishes for a stable life when coming to America. Of the few that make it, the support for all groups should be equal.
Learn more about migration with this video series. Learn more about the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE and other immigration agencies, here.
This post was written by United 4 Social Change's editorial intern, Genelle M.