Biden is fueling the flames of a paranoia that Trump stoked before him

The news that Biden's administration is to provide legal support for unaccompanied migrant children in several American cities will doubtless be welcomed. The federal initiative is said to provide attorneys to represent children facing deportation proceedings after having entered the country on their own at the southern border.

But when examining United States border policy holistically, the move doesn't go nearly far enough. It's a drop in the ocean when considering the escalating humanitarian crisis — and it is a crisis — that exists as a result of US border policies, foreign policy and influence.

First, the way to deal with a surge in unaccompanied minors is not to buttress legal provisions. The sensible and humane thing would be to allow passage for their parents and guardians to safely enter the country in order to have their asylum claims processed together as families. The sanctity of families should be protected at all costs.

While many Democrats might choose to blame the migration crisis on the Trump era, that's too easy. Biden's administration has the power to rescind Title 42 whenever it wishes. Yet Title 42 remains in place despite Biden promising to break from such policies, and in the face of demands from the UN and countless other humanitarian groups demanding its removal. Furthermore, with the availability of vaccines, covid is no longer an excuse to maintain racist border policies.

In recent days, four United Nations agencies have warned against the dangers of deporting Haitians arriving at the border back to Haiti. Instability in the island nation is serious. Experts highlight food shortages, gang violence and political turmoil in the wake of the assassination of a former president. Haiti still suffers from the after-effects of its most recent earthquake. The US special envoy there resigned, citing the treatment of Haitians at the southern border.

The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy.

If the conditions outlined by Daniel Foote and UN agencies don't justify the chance to safely claim asylum, then what does?

There's a reason, too, why many are characterizing the treatment of Haitian migrants as anti-Black. From Afghans to Canadian border crossers, other migrants are treated better. The Biden administration's border policies break the president's campaign promises. They arguably also break domestic and international law. They are self-evidently morally repugnant, enforced with barbarity. The real reason that such policies exist is, of course, to satisfy America's insatiable unwarranted paranoia over so-called border security.

The flames of that paranoia were stoked for sure by the former president. But rather than extinguish those flames, Biden's administration is doing the equivalent of throwing chip fat into the fire. While politicians repeat endless talking points about enforcing law and safety regarding the border, the reality is that America's border policies, like the UK, ought to represent a source of national shame. But they don't. They've become mainstream political currency.

By supporting such policies, flag wavers and so-called respectable people are consigning vulnerable people to a death sentence. Deporting people back to places like Haiti could mean exactly that. Such privilege and racism are the opposite of democracy.

What certainly is a cornerstone of democracy, however, is protest.

And that's what demonstrators did recently, outside the home of Alejandro Mayorkas, demanding Biden's administration make good on promises to undo damage already done. They want an end to Title 42, the rule allowing the deportation of people suspected of having covid.

It's clear by now that relentless pressure must be applied to force the right thing. As it stands, human rights and human dignity remain buzzwords repeated by President Biden and his predecessors. Decent democrats and Democrats need to rally and demand that Biden's administration reverse the inhumane border policies.

It's tiring having to constantly argue that Black people are humans deserving of fair treatment under the law. One day, Haitian kids will grow up, becoming our future. What do we tell them to explain their treatment and that of their parents? That it was the law, a government policy? That democracy was a nice idea, applicable to some?

The government's disturbing treatment of the Proud Boys is a clear and present danger

Far-right extremism, or white supremacy, is the fastest growing ideology in the United States. The impact of white supremacists terrorizing Black communities has led to calls for serious action, even an anti-lynching bill. This alone reflects how dangerous they are.

Add to that the January 6 insurrection and the evidenced involvement of the Proud Boys, and other groups, leading to the FBI describing the attack on the United States Capitol as an act of domestic terror.

A mountain of evidence suggests that, just as Canada did (and as I've written previously for the Editorial Board), the United States should follow suit and list the Proud Boys (and others) as domestic terror groups, as part of its initiative to tackle white supremacy.

But that hasn't happened. Failure means the problem persists with the potential to worsen. The safety of Black people and people of color, and the internal security of the United States, depends on such a bold move happening. The failure to treat the Proud Boys as they should be by the federal authorities is continuing to have consequences.

Indeed, a couple of things have taken place recently that have once again brought this worrying reality into sharp focus. First, the clashes several weeks back between the Proud Boys and anti-fascists.

The scenes in Portland, Oregon, turned ugly, but thankfully nobody was killed. Here's the thing that's alarming. Prior to the Proud Boy protest and the counter demonstration, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell publicly announced that officers would not intervene. The Proud Boys are a threat, but here they were treated with kid gloves.

The lack of policing means that an approach of doubling down will be needed the next time the Proud Boys appear. Because the calculated failure to leave them to their own devices in the streets is akin to Trump's message. It's extremely dangerous, and dare I suggest, not how millions of Americans want their tax dollars spent with policing. Surely, those Proud Boys who watched events unfold in Portland at home on the TV will be salivating at the prospect of the next protest.

The plot thickens even further.

Just days ago, a judge ruled that prosecutors in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha shooter who shot three people at a protest against police brutality in 2020, will not be able to play for jurors a video of Rittenhouse allegedly stating his desire to shoot people — while agreeing with the Proud Boys' tactics. The news is another example of how dangerous the Proud Boys and their ilk have become.

They can terrorize the Capitol, greenlighted by the former president, and, others would argue, in the streets, allowed to do so by a police chief in Portland. Apparently the Proud Boys were allowed to post banners around the city before the violence took place.

Their white supremacist ideology is something the likes of Kyle Rittenhouse was sympathetic to. How many more like Rittenhouse are on the sideline, "standing by" for their chance, brainwashed by the nonsense of the Proud Boys? It doesn't bear thinking about.

In recent days, the Times reported that a member of the Proud Boys who was present and took part in the insurrection was also an FBI informant and was texting his contact throughout the day.

That the FBI remained in contact suggests that law enforcement were more informed about imminent violence than previously suggested. One thing is clear by now. Law enforcement have more than enough evidence and knowledge, and means, as do the FBI, to halt the Proud Boys in their tracks before they carry out further serious crimes.

Trump was a dream come true for the Proud Boys. God only knows what messaging he might have continued giving to white supremacist groups had he secured another term. Biden needs to now break up the dangerous groundwork that was laid for groups like them. And ordinary Americans need to push him. The safety of tax-paying Americans, and American democracy itself, is depending on it.

Biden is already breaking the pledge from his United Nations speech

President Joe Biden in his recent address at the United Nations announced that the United States will "lead" the world on "human dignity and human rights." If the scenes from the southern border are anything to go by, the reality as it stands is the polar opposite.

It's not just that America's racist past has yet to be accounted for. The past has a direct correlation to the present. In the same way that local police departments have roots in slave catching, in every aspect of state authority imaginable, racism festers. The United Nations recognizes this, and so do countless others around the world.

A true commitment to human rights would mean revolutionizing policy by rooting out systemic white supremacy, with checks and balances that ensure powerful institutions can never again become corrupted by such forces. But far from leaving the dark chapter of the Trump era in the past, a period in which America's longstanding racism was mainstreamed, parading belligerently in the highest corridors of power, the US seems barely able to turn a new page.

Thousands of Black migrants, having gone through a living hell to reach the US, are being met with the kind of inhumane barbarism that the US is quick to call out elsewhere in the world. The argument of the law being enforced is in itself highly questionable, as is the motive of using such an argument. But in any case, it doesn't mean a damn. The scenes at the border are just plain wrong, and it doesn't take a legal expert to know it. Anyone with two eyes, and a heart, can see it.

Black people born in the only nation to ever produce a successful slave revolt, being herded like cattle by white men on horses in the name of the law, is not an accident. It's a policy decision made somewhere along the line by powerful people sitting in offices with houses in suburbs, who would swear blind they believe in democracy.

But as the story of the Haitian migrants at the border continues, the narrative may yet worsen. Just yesterday, reports suggested that some of those Haitians detained at the southern border might be sent to a migrant "facility" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be "processed."

The United States Department of Homeland Security has since denied the claims, despite the Biden administration advertising a new contract to operate the migrant center at the US naval base there, with an emphasis on the need for Spanish and Haitian Creole speakers.

Taking the DHS at its word, likely means that other Haitian migrants who are captured at sea will be taken to Guantanamo, as has previously been the case, and not the ones we've seen on TV. In other words, the Haitians at Del Rio might be spared imprisonment at Guantanamo, a place accused of carrying out torture, but their very own family members might be sent there instead. So much better.

A healthy dose of skepticism, however, will cast doubt on DHS claims. The published update of the advertised contract is from just a few days ago. And while the migrant facility at Guantanamo is advertised as having the capacity for 120 people, the posting also states that, "the service provider shall be responsible to maintain on site the necessary equipment to erect temporary housing facilities for populations that exceed 120 and up to 400 migrants in a surge event."

A surge in Haitians is what we have seen at the southern border. It is what we will continue to see despite attempts from both governments to stem the flow of people. Could this be why the migrant facility at Gitmo needs managers capable of dealing with greater capacity?

In addition to this, there have been suggestions that of those already deported to Haiti, paperwork was forged with some being deported to Port-au-Prince despite not having left from there in the first place.

These suggestions, alongside the visible conduct of the border authorities both in the US and Mexico, do not inspire confidence that the Haitians at the border will not end up being sent to Guantanamo. And if the border authorities look like slave-catching vigilantes, what kind of individuals will be in charge of the operational custody of the migrants at Guantanamo? It doesn't bear thinking about.

The Biden administration can talk about law and order, and human rights, all it wants. The notion that Haitians can safely claim asylum, as repeated by Mayorkas, is obscene. The horrendous border policies are part and parcel of the hostile messaging by the administration, and deterrent, telling potential asylum seekers "do not come."

The timing of Joe Biden's UN remarks could not be worse. It's one thing to honestly outline a plan, as a new leader, acknowledging that the starting point to the finish line, with the goal of the US leading the world on human rights, might be a long road — to say the least.

But Biden's statement, made while his administration continues to implement and accelerate the very same policies that would make Donald Trump proud, with the evidence literally being televised around the world, is a dangerous form of denialism that's insulting to the victims of the racist border violence we have seen.

And it's getting worse for Biden.

In his bid to appease voters illogically clinging to unfounded lies about migrants and border fears, the border controversies have whipped up a political storm. A senior US diplomat and special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, has now stepped down having handed his resignation to Anthony Blinken, saying that he would "not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees" while slamming the border policies as "deeply flawed." His resignation letter also argued that Haiti as a "collapsed state is unable to provide security or basic services and more refugees will fuel further desperation and crime."

Foote's honesty means he has no place in an administration that's digging in over its globally criticized border policies, and even fighting a federal court judgement ordering an end to families being deported and prevented from setting foot on US soil under Title 42.

Politically, there might be no easy options for the president. But the promises of his campaign, and the human rights and dignity he speaks of, are really universal values. His administration should have the guts to do the right thing, regardless of the political consequences.

Better to try and fail than to fail to try.

Haitian refugees are fleeing a crisis created in part by the US — and we owe them an enormous debt

President Joe Biden promised during his first joint address to the United States Congress earlier in the year to tackle systemic racism. America and the world was listening, including Haitians.

Some might have thought that beyond the need of the United States to eradicate the scourge of racism evident in many areas of society within its own borders, a radical plan might be implemented to tackle discrimination regarding the heavily criticized border policies.

But as is evidenced with the growing humanitarian crisis witnessed at the US/Mexico border, far from tackling systemic racism, critics say the government is continuing to perpetuate, and even exacerbate it.

In recent days the number of migrants, mostly Haitian, amassing at the underpass in the small American town of Del Rio has grown, fast and to incredibly large numbers. By the time you read this, the numbers may match or surpass the size of the population of the town itself.

And despite charter planes already deporting hundreds at a time back to Haiti, despite others being removed, supposedly to be "processed" elsewhere in the US, or also deported, those numbers of Haitians crossing onto American soil are only going to increase.

Militarized border agents in Mexico rounding them up and beating them will not deter them. Border authorities in the US, and the threat of deportation, will not deter them. Nor will the sour words from American politicians prevent them from making the perilous journey from Haiti to the US in the hope of reaching relative safety.

Make no mistake: desperate people are capable of remarkable things. Some of those migrants, including the large number from Haiti, have travelled incredible distances, unimaginable for most of us, and have survived innumerable deadly situations, simply for the chance to live.

What's left behind means there is only one option for them and their families, and that's to keep moving forward. To move forward is to live, with the dream of thriving. To go back, or to put it bluntly, to be shackled, chained and forcibly taken back against their will to certain danger, means the strong possibility of death.

All of us would do the same. In fact, many of us privileged Westerners often conveniently forget that many of our ancestors, who came before us, did indeed embark on similar journeys to create a better life. And in fact, this story is the backstory for many Americans, whose forefathers and -mothers struggled to be identified as American, and whose progeny now want to slam the door shut on those fleeing perilous situations back home.

The fact that we are now seeing thousands of Haitians with Black skin being treated like dirt by the system is not a story that's separate from modern contemporary America. It's a direct by-product of it. Black people built America by the labor forcibly extracted from those of African descent, and Haiti and its wealth was both a prize fought over by various European colonies in the period of slavery and beyond while remaining an island exploited by the United States.

The United States owes a debt to Haiti and Haitians.

I'll get to Title 42 in a moment, but the relationship of the United States (and its allies and competitors) in the past with Haiti adds an extra dimension of immorality to the way in which Haitian migrants are currently being treated by immigration authorities.

To put it bluntly, Black lives do not seem to matter, and Black lives still seem to be expendable. As I've written about at the Editorial Board previously, were the thousands of migrants gathering at Del Rio and elsewhere of a different background from that which they belong, they would be treated differently. But as the saying goes, for the Haitians in particular, they lack the complexion for protection.

Cynics might call you names and decry anyone like me demanding a change in US border controls and policies as a race-baiting liberal snowflake. But the truth is, that this whole nightmare is born of a basic lack of humanity and decency, something that the US and UK love to talk about in grand terms, but which is seldom enacted by the politicians we elect and the demands we make of them.

But the question of the treatment of migrants, mostly Haitian at Del Rio and elsewhere along the border, is a legal one, as well as moral.

It's not just the UN which has raised concerns about the Biden administration continuing the use of the controversial Title 42. A federal judge ordered the administration to stop expelling families who cross the border from seeking refuge. The judge has given two weeks to enact it, but in the meantime the deportations continue and are said to be being ramped up. The administration is also appealing.

This administration has repeatedly suggested, in the face of strong criticism, that it is not refusing refuge and the right to apply for asylum for those that need it, insisting that those entering the US need to do it the right way and that measures taken are about the safety of migrants and enforcing perfectly legal border controls. Human rights and legal experts, though, cast doubt on the legality of the expulsions and have slammed them as a cynical exploitation of the law.

Quite apart from the obvious connotations of the imagery of Black people being rounded up by men on horseback, reported to be US border agents enforcing the law, there are many claims of the law being broken too — of authorities forging documentation to justify expulsions, including suggestions that some of those deported to Haiti were not even from Haiti.

The methods used by Mexican and US border authorities, for those concerned with human rights at least, resemble less civil servants carrying out the law and more heavy set men, mostly white or identifying as white, relishing in rounding up, beating and detaining vulnerable people using disproportionate force and violence.

It doesn't have to be this way, and other options are possible.

And the Democrats in the Congress certainly have the power to change or influence the tide, rather than capitulating to it.

All the evidence shows that migrants do not threaten countries like the US, but bolster its economy and cultural landscape, ultimately enriching it. Donald Trump's policies shouldn't be pandered to; they should be smashed and relegated to the dustbin of history, forever. Migrants aren't any more dangerous than Americans already in America, and they aren't going to steal your job or homes. They'll often create jobs and are the ones who might build your home, or design it.

But racism and bigotry, it seems, remain powerful.

There's a need, argument and necessity for the US to produce sensible and fair border policies giving everyone the right to be processed safely. The White House must drop the pretence of continuing Trump's Title 42 with the excuse of covid when Haitians camped in dangerous conditions present a potential health crisis in itself.

Federal law, countless legal experts, the United Nations and huge swathes of the international community make a compelling argument that must be heeded. Give the Haitians a chance to live their lives.

They are fleeing a crisis, in part created by the US. The US must now deal with that with a plan grounded in law, reason and basic simple humanity. It's not a question of means or resources. It's a matter of political will, and such political will needs to stem from the top.


The secrets of the Proud Boys revealed

The so-called Proud Boys are a white supremacist militia. They pose a clear and present danger to Black Americans and the security of the United States. They were part of the insurgency that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 in an act that FBI Director Christopher Wray stated was clearly an act of domestic terror.

The Proud Boys fit the definition—political violence, motivated with the desire to take control of the Capitol building, believing they had God on their side. That surely meets any reasonable criteria. One Proud Boy, known as "Milkshake," was recently arrested for his role in the insurrection, and allegedly shouted, "Let's take the fucking Capitol," while wearing a hat with the words "God, Guns and Trump" emblazoned on it.

Why then has the United States thus far failed to designate officially the Proud Boys as a domestic terror group? Canada did. But the US hasn't. It's surely a fair question.

Firstly, it's worth remembering it took until 2017 for the KKK to be designated domestic terrorists despite their reign of terror beginning in the 1860s. That's a long stretch. Also worth noting are the Klan's well-documented and deep historical links to law enforcement. In the civil-rights era, southern police officers and senior officials actually coordinated with the Klan while many cops were active members of it.

Since the early 2000s, the FBI and other federal agencies have issued a number of reports warning of the deep infiltration of local law enforcement by white supremacist groups. It isn't limited to the American South. Police forces all over the country have members linked to the Proud Boys and other white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

There's even an unofficial database for Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies believed to be members. Indeed, in one case in 1991, it was revealed that a "neo-Nazi gang of deputies" actually operated using "terrorist-type tactics" in the knowledge of their colleagues and superiors. The problem is deep-rooted, long-standing and deadly.

When Capitol Police turned their attention away, and diverted resources from the 200 or so Proud Boys who were convening near the Capitol on January 6, one must wonder why. We've all seen the videos of police officers gesturing with the "OK" hand signal meant to symbolize white power to other white supremacists. But seeing Capitol Police appear to open the gates to allow the insurgents to swarm the buildings, and seeing one officer pose for a picture with one of the seditionists, was illuminating.

But the links go deeper. Many feel groups like the Proud Boys, and other groups like the Oath Keepers, have acted as unofficial paramilitary for members of the Republican Party. At the presidential debates, Trump telling the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by" was pretty much akin to a military command. To what extent this played into the climate of violence that produced the riots themselves is an important question.

Trump's long-time advisor Roger Stone has been investigated for connections to the Proud Boys and others, even pictured with a number of far-righters who acted as his bodyguards. He's alleged to have been involved with or have had connections to people charged over the Capitol riots. (Also worth flagging is a notorious picture of Roger Stone believed to be taken with Proud Boys members.) If another adviser to another sitting president had been pictured with any extremists who were, say, Muslim or Black, or both, one can imagine how loud the outcry would be. Meanwhile, white supremacists also allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Yet the Proud Boys are not officially designated as domestic terrorists. Why?

What's also interesting is the Republicans blocking an independent commission into the events of January 6. What are they afraid of? What's the big deal in acknowledging the Proud Boys for what they are, and examining fully, their role in January 6?

Acknowledging January 6 as an act of domestic terror might be one thing. But taking the next step of calling the Proud Boys domestic terrorists has wider implications. Law enforcement officials and politicians potentially being linked to a terror group might force a political reckoning and conversation in the US that some want to avoid. But much like accounting for the history and roots of white supremacy in the US, and the wider impact this has in 2021, it's the Pandora's Box that should be opened.

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