Excerpted From: Kayla M. Chisholm, Anti-Blackness in Immigration: A Comparative Analysis Between the United States of America and the United Mexican States [Estados Unidos Mexicanos], 31 Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law 145 (Winter, 2023) (172 Footnotes) (Full Document)


KaylaMChisholmChallenges within the United States' immigration system sat at the forefront of global discussions for change in 2020. Some hoped that a new administration would usher in a reformed standard of decency for migrants venturing through the southern U.S. border. However, on September 21, 2021, a video of Border Control agents on horseback, “‘rounding’ up” Black people with what were initially perceived to be whips, circulated on the Internet. Upon investigation, the Department of Homeland Security identified the people as Haitian migrants seeking asylum and the “whips” as horses' reins. Further outrage arose when Border Control agents stated they were not whipping the migrants; rather, they were attempting to force them toward the Mexican side of the border using their horses and reins. Within days there was a call for reform and a conversation regarding anti-Blackness and immigration enforcement policies intensified. The Mexican government issued statements standing with the Haitian migrants and offered relief. With the United States' and Mexico's hyper focus on Central American migration, mainstream media heavily ignored the plight of Haitian migrants in 2020. However, this incident helped to highlight the thousands of Haitian migrants seeking protection by migrating to the United States through Mexico. Although past literature calls attention to anti-Blackness, more specifically anti-Haitian sentiments, this 2020 incident glaringly highlighted the thousands of Haitian migrants seeking protection in the United States. On the heels of the 2020 social and racial justice movement, the question of the relationship between anti-Blackness and immigration pushed itself to the forefront of the minds of many. As the first free Black republic in the Western Hemisphere, anti-Blackness in Haitian migration through the Americas has an undeniable history.

This Comment explores anti-Blackness in immigration policies and practices by focusing its attention on the treatment of Haitian migrants in Mexico and the United States. In order for there to be safe migration for Haitian people, countries must root their immigration policy and practices in proactive anti-racist ideology as the issues surrounding Black migrants are specific to their race and their immigration status. In Part II, this Comment discusses the history of immigration laws and the migration policies in the United States and Mexico and presents a comparative analysis of their anti-Black migration policies specifically aimed toward Haitians along with their responses to forced migration. In Part III, this Comment presents a brief history of the push and pull factors linked to Haitian migration to provide context of historical practices. Part IV provides policy recommendations borne out of the social justice movement for just immigration practices.

[. . .]

Black people are not separated from larger immigration issues because their race often exposes them to more risk. Blackness must not be separate from immigration because anti-Black policies, such as enforcement officers on horseback violently pushing people out of the country, are built within the framework of the United States. Whether Title 42, TPS, or another policy is responsible for keeping these individuals from gaining entry, it has become increasingly clear that policy garnered from the colonial era is rooted in anti-Blackness and race-neutrality. To ensure the safe migration of Haitian immigrants there must be a cultural shift.

Looking at immigration from Haiti comparatively between Mexico and the United States, it becomes glaringly obvious that safe migration is pro-Black migration. The crux of immigration policies modeled after the United Nations recommendations do not specifically address the unique issues that stem from race. To ensure just migration, countries must begin working towards an actively anti-racist reconstruction of their policies.

. Kayla M. Chisholm is a 2023 Juris Doctorate candidate at Tulane University Law School.