Dozens of lawmakers led by Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez are calling on the Biden administration to immediately halt mass deportations to Haiti, writing in a letter last Friday that the nation’s “ability to safely receive its citizens will take months, if not years, to secure.” Just in the past few months alone, Haiti has endured a horrific 7.2 earthquake and the assassination of its president.
“The Biden administration cannot claim it is doing everything it can to support the Haitian community while continuing to unjustly deport Haitians as the island weathers its worst political, public health and economic crises yet,” wrote House Haiti Caucus co-chair Pressley. “We have a moral obligation to lead with compassion. That means immediately halting the cruel and callous deportations of our Haitian neighbors and leveraging every resource available to support those fleeing the humanitarian crisis on the island.” But new reports indicate deportation flights to Haiti are only escalating.
Since news last week that the Biden administration had deported nearly 90 kids and adults to Haiti (leaving advocates in “utter disbelief”), BuzzFeed News’ Hamed Aleaziz said officials may ramp up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation flights to as many as eight per day. Haitian Bridge Alliance said that as of midday Monday, officials had already carried out three flights to Haiti. NBC News’ Julia Ainsley further reports that “in an effort to speed up deportations, ICE is no longer testing for Covid before flights.” This is precisely how ICE helped spread the virus last year, investigations have found.
The Biden administration’s drastic escalation in deportation flights to Haiti is in response to up to 10,000 asylum-seekers and other migrants, many of them Haitian, stranded in a Mexican border town. CNN reports that many of these migrants may have arrived from South America, having fled Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. But Refugees International said in a statement received by Daily Kos that “[a]ccording to a plan announced on Saturday, the Biden administration has begun to fly asylum seekers to Haiti, though many of them have not lived in Haiti for years.” Additionally, the Biden administration is deporting Haitian asylum-seekers and migrants when the administration itself has said it’s not safe to return people there.
“Unlike other migrants awaiting entry at the U.S.-Mexico border, Haitians have been prevented from seeking protection since the commencement of the 2016 metering policy, which was culminated by their subsequent exclusion from Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), and then the Title 42 ban,” legislators write. “Simply put, no legal (and legally required) avenues to protection have existed for Haitians at the border since 2016.” Just this past Friday, the Biden administration also appealed the new court decision blocking the anti-asylum Title 42 policy that’s been used to quickly deport Haitians.
One also need only to turn on the television or scroll through Twitter today to see the kind of abuse specifically leveled against Haitians following horrific images of border agents using whips against a number of people. “Hours after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, President Joe Biden released a statement saying that the United States was a ‘friend” of Haiti,” Haitian Bridge Alliance Executive Director Guerline Jozef said following reports of last Thursday’s deportation flight. “A friend does not continuously inflict pain on another friend.”
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary has the discretionary authority to parole Haitians into the U.S. on a case-by-case basis,” legislators tell the administration. “Humanitarian parole should be broadly considered and used for Haitians who have been awaiting entry to apply for asylum, some for years and others in the aftermath of President Moïse’s assassination. We urge the administration to take immediate steps to encourage and empower agents and officers to grant humanitarian parole.”
Legislators also urged the reinstatement of Haitian Family Reunification Parole, which allows certain eligible individuals to more quickly bring Haitian relatives already in the visa process to the U.S. “The previous administration weakened and sought to terminate HFRP, and President Biden made a campaign pledge to rebuild it in October 2020,” they said.
“The people of Haiti have been dealt one tragedy after another through no fault of their own,” Velázquez said. “People fleeing are at their breaking point: the continued need for recovery after the August earthquake and the protracted political instability after the assassination of Jovenel Moïse have left thousands of Haitians unsure of their country’s future. It is imperative that the United States lead and address the needs of Haiti’s humanitarian crisis with compassion and resolve. That’s why Rep. Pressley and I are urging the Biden administration to immediately halt deportations and use the appropriate tools available to help vulnerable Haitians find safe haven in the United States.” Hundreds upon hundreds of organizations have already called on the Biden administration to halt these deportations. More also continue to call on the administration to respect asylum law and allow vulnerable people to seek relief.
“When U.S. officials expel and return individuals seeking protection without assessing their asylum claims, they act unlawfully and create serious risks to the safety of asylum seekers. And the risks with respect to Haiti are particularly compelling,” Refugees International said. “Expelling and returning Haitians to a country in the midst of a political and humanitarian crisis—to a country which cannot ensure their security and basic needs—is both legally and morally indefensible.”
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.