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In late September, disturbing photos emerged of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback, chasing Haitian migrants along the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, in an effort to keep them from crossing the Mexican border into the United States. Actress Garcelle Beauvais—a native of Haiti who immigrated to the U.S. as a child—was shocked. Beauvais, who still feels still deeply connected to her homeland and its people, asked herself: Why would a country that claims to welcome immigrants treat them in this way?
"There's always been political unrest in Haiti, for centuries," Beauvais tells Oprah Daily. "And then on top of it, there was the earthquake in 2010, and this year, a tropical storm, and another earthquake. And then our president was assassinated right before this last earthquake. It just seems like the country can't get a break. So there's a lot of political unrest, and that's compounded with the way we're treated." The turmoil and ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti has, in recent weeks, caused more than 60,000 migrants to make the dangerous journey through South America and Mexico to seek refuge in the U.S.
That's led the The Real co-host and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star—who serves on the executive advisory board of Haitian children's charity, Angels for Humanity—to speak out on behalf of Haitian refugees, penning this open letter to President Biden, urging him to rethink his handling of the situation at the border, as Haitian migrants seek asylum in the United Sates of America.
Dear Mr. President,
My name is Garcelle Beauvais, and I immigrated to the United States at the age of 7 with my mother and siblings. I am a proud Haitian immigrant and a prime example of Haitian resilience, excellence, creativity, and success. Almost 50 years later, I am blessed to be a thriving entrepreneur, actress, producer, mother, and humanitarian. I represent all of what is possible and probable when you give people a chance to realize their dreams and flourish.
What I have seen happening at the borders in Southern Texas shakes me to my core of who I am as a person, a Haitian immigrant, a United States citizen, and a staunch supporter of yours. I was filled with so much hope and joy the night you were elected, as were many of my friends and family. I personally endorsed and supported you for the compassion, honesty and character you represented. Seeing September’s show of brute inhumane force by the US Border Patrol, and the ongoing mistreatment of Haitian migrants, has me questioning whether or not my faith in you and your administration was misplaced.
Under no circumstances should human beings who are in dire need be treated like this. That was not American; not the America I dreamed of. Not the America I see coming to the aid of other refugees from other countries. I don’t recall seeing them whipped like dogs when they were defenseless and broken. We help, not intentionally hurt. It was a disgraceful, and sadly, familiar show of what America has represented to Black people across the nation. It was savage and cruel.
I am sure you are well aware that my Haitian community already had a deep-seated love-hate relationship with the Democratic party due to decades of false promises and unfulfilled obligations. You ran under the promise of being more humane in your approach to immigration. You pledged to put democracy and human rights back at the center of American foreign policy. Now, it’s your job to live up to that promise. Brutality is beneath you, President Biden; that’s what we voted against. That’s what we voted out of office.
We are watching.
"Why swiftly deport and slam the door in the face of Haitians? The only logical answer is discrimination and racism."
At the root of the word humanitarian is the word human. To me, this has no color or region assigned to it; for me, this is personal. When Marsha Espinosa, your assistant secretary for public affairs for the Department of Homeland Security, states that “We have reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” I wonder why the borders are closed to these Haitian migrants, but wide open to hundreds of thousands of Afghan migrants? Dire need is dire need, isn’t it? Why swiftly deport and slam the door in the face of Haitians?
The only logical answer is discrimination and racism. I am not that person that screams racism every chance I get, but you have to call it out when it is painfully obvious. You have to speak the truth.
You must do better. As the saying goes: “When you know better, you do better.” You know better. It is my hope that my voice will be heard and that those Haitian lives at the Del Rio border crossing will be honored as human lives. Everybody deserves a chance to prove themselves. We gave you one. And now, with all due respect, Mr. President, you owe my people one.
For readers who would like to donate to help the Haitian migrant crisis at the border, I urge you to contact my charities of choice UNICEF and Angels of Humanity.
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