MIAMI — The image of a U.S. border agent on horseback wielding what appears to be a rope or reins while chasing a Haitian migrant on the U.S.-Mexico border first appeared on Rulx Jean-Bart’s telephone as a WhatsApp video being shared by outraged fellow Haitians.
Jean-Bart, a former director of what was once the largest Haitian rights organization who now lives in Miramar, said the image instantly took him back several decades.
It didn’t matter if the agent was holding a lariat or horse reins or if the migrant was actually struck or not. The picture was enough.
“It reminded me of our history here in the United States. There has always been this mistreatment of Haitians, treating them differently; keeping them away from the U.S. at any cost,” said Jean-Bart, calling the image “painful and revolting.”
“Whether it was under (the Duvalier regime), or any other president,” he said, “it has always been the same story.”
The video of a mounted U.S. Border Patrol agent chasing a Haitian migrant, who falls back into the Rio Grande, was taken on the U.S. side of the border in Del Rio, Texas, and has appeared on U.S. news sites and on social media since early Monday.
It has sparked outrage across communities, and condemnation of the Biden administration even by Democrats.
“The images of this unconscionable attack by United States border agents on helpless Haitian migrants have an uncanny resemblance to the photos in our history books that show the truth of how Black people were treated in this country in centuries past,” said U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who has long been an outspoken support of Haitians.
Waters said she is “outraged by the reprehensible behavior of these border agents who seem to lack humanity,” and “extremely disappointed in the Biden Administration for its willingness to continue the racist application of immigration policies and tactics utilized by Donald Trump, the most xenophobic and dangerous president in our nation’s history.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, said President Joe Biden had seen the footage and photo and believes they “are horrific.”