CLINIC Stands Alongside Black Migrants Harmed in Del Rio, Texas

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — In September 2021, people across the United States were shocked as disturbing images of an encounter between U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, agents and Haitian and Black African migrants emerged in the media. The CBP officers on horseback appeared to be chasing Black migrants and using horse reigns to whip them.

The images were all too reminiscent of the historic treatment of Black enslaved people and the ongoing vilification of Black migrants in the media and by authorities today.

“It is impossible to ignore how Black migrants peacefully approaching the border to exercise their legal right to seek asylum are regularly depicted and treated as a threat,” said Elnora Bassey, a Policy Advocate at CLINIC. “The racist abuse of Black migrants in Del Rio will leave a permanent scar – both in the minds of all who saw these images, and even more so for those migrants seeking safety who were met with such treatment.”

CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, investigated this incident and recently published a 511-page report. This report included information regarding the 30 interviews conducted by OPR – with CBP personnel, Texas law enforcement and journalists. None of the migrants impacted by these horrific actions were interviewed.

An investigation which does not include the testimony or hear from those directly harmed will not be taken seriously or received as being truthful. CLINIC joins Haitian Bridge Alliance and other Black-led immigrant advocacy organizations in calling for action from DHS and CBP to ensure that investigations are conducted with fairness and integrity and to ensure that the victims of harm are given opportunity to give testimony to their experiences. Only fair and thorough investigations can prevent further harm.

“The particular mistreatment of Black migrants — indicative of anti-Blackness — is a stain on our nation and one that continues to grow,” said Bassey. “The U.S. asylum system is in shambles and is in need of full restoration so that all our immigrant brothers and sisters who seek refuge on U.S. soil can do so free and clear of fear and harm.”