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Haitian Crisis

The United States is currently turning away Haitian refugees who are fleeing a humanitarian crisis and seeking to legally gain asylum in the U.S. under international law.

OVER 120 NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS AND ADVOCATES URGE BIDEN TO END DEPORTATIONS TO HAITI

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Contact: Nekessa Opoti

comms@baji.org 

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law

Contact: Peter Schey

pschey@centerforhumanrights.org

NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS AND ADVOCATES URGE BIDEN

TO END DEPORTATIONS TO HAITI

Two weeks after the U.N. approved multinational armed force intervention in Haiti, over one-hundred and fifty organizations and advocates sent a letter to President Biden urging his Administration to stop all deportation to Haiti and to stop interdicting Haitian refugees who flee the country by boat. Gangs have taken over much of the country, leaving Haitian communities displaced, without access to food, water, hospitals, or education and subject to extreme violence as gangs battle to occupy more territory.

 

At a recent Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Hearing focused on the intersection of race and migration, Legal Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) Tsion Gurmu said that “Black migrants face racist immigration laws and policies globally, and particularly acutely in the Americas. Yet, our experiences have been systematically disregarded and our communities silenced. We are witnessing an increasing externalization of borders as the primary means to regulate migration which in turn disproportionately impacts the movement of Black migrants, fuels anti-Black racism and racial profiling, and turns borders into sites of criminalization and dehumanization.”

 

Executive Director of BAJI, Nana Gyamfi, pointed out that “Reports of plane loads of migrants forced to return to Haiti, evocative photographs of migrant camps at Del Rio, the Texas border town on the Rio Grande, and graphic images of Black migrants pursued and rounded up by U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback, are exactly what the Biden campaign pledged to consign to the past when it promised to ‘undo the moral and national shame’ of the previous administration.”

 

Brian Concannon, founder of Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), explains that progress toward democracy and stability in Haiti cannot be made until the U.S. stops propping up the illegitimate government of Ariel Henry - and gives “Haitians, who understand their context much better than people in the United States,” the chance to rebuild their country. “The problem remains the administration’s failed foreign policy towards Haiti, which by propping up the corrupt regime and blocking democracy is responsible for Haiti’s unprecedentedly hellish conditions,” said Steve Forester, IJDH Immigration Policy Coordinator. “Until that policy finally changes, many Haitians will unfortunately likely continue to risk their lives in desperate attempts to save them.”

President of Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) Peter Schey has long been advocating for protections for Haitian refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. In 1980, he worked with Ira Kurzban, Rick Swartz, and Steven Forester on a district court case called Haitian Refugee Center v. Civiletti that resulted in an injunction blocking thousands of deportations to Haiti, later upheld in the Fifth Circuit. In 1997, he won a ruling by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights finding that the interdiction program that turns away thousands of Haitian people who arrive at the U.S. coast after perilous journeys by boat violates the “right to life” under international law. “The continued interdiction of Haitians who have made perilous journeys on makeshift boats and finally reached the U.S. shore, as well as the cruel U.S. Coast Guard practice of capturing and turning back boats outside the Haiti border is a violation of domestic and international law and an egregious human rights violation.”

Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) is the largest Black-led social justice organization representing the nearly 10 million Black immigrants, refugees, and families living in the U.S. BAJI fights for the rights of Black migrants and African Americans through organizing, legal advocacy, research, policy, and narrative building to improve the conditions of Black communities by advancing racial justice and migrant rights. 

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) is a partnership of human rights advocates in Haiti and the U.S., dedicated to tackling the root causes of injustice that impacts basic human rights in Haiti and supporting the Haitian people in their grassroots struggle for social justice and democratic government.

The Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law (CHRCL) provides training and support to California legal service providers and works towards immigrant justice through class action litigation and advocacy.

On October 25, 2023, BAJI, IJDH, and CHRCL, joined by over 150 organizations and advocates, sent the following letter to President Biden.

Welcome refugees

Request for Release of Policies Relating to Haitian Refugees:

Several organizations represented by CHRCL and BAJI have submitted FOIA requests to DHS and the U.S. Coast Guard seeking more information about the United States’ practices of interdiction, turning away asylum seekers, and patrolling the coast of Haiti to trap Haitian refugees in a country occupied by warring gangs. 

On October 25, 2023, CHRCL filed a FOIA request to the U.S. Coast Guard for information related to the U.S.’s treatment of Haitian refugees on behalf of Asian Americans Advancing Justice SoCal, National Immigration Law Center, Al Otro Lado, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice SoCal is a social justice organization that protects and strengthens the rights and dignity of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, especially those that are most disadvantaged.

National Immigration Law Center is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of immigrants with low income.

Al Otro Lado provides holistic legal and humanitarian support to refugees, deportees, and other migrants in the US and Tijuana through a multidisciplinary, client-centered, harm reduction-based practice.

 

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti is a U.S.-based human rights non-profit organization. Established in 2004, it is a partnership of human rights advocates in Haiti and the U.S., dedicated to tackling the root causes of injustice that impacts basic human rights in Haiti.

Black Alliance for Just Immigration (“BAJI”) educates and engages African American and black immigrant communities to organize and advocate for racial, social and economic justice. BAJI provides training and technical assistance to partner organizations, organizes faith communities and advocates, and brings together black-led organizations and programs to advance just immigration policies and promote cultural shifts our communities need.

 

CHRCL sent another FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of requesting parties Public Law Center, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Public Law Center, Orange County’s pro bono law firm, is committed to providing access to justice for low-income and vulnerable residents. Founded in 1981, PLC’s 57 staff members work with over 1,600 Orange County lawyers, paralegals, law students and other volunteers annually to provide free civil legal services, including: counseling, individual representation, community education, and strategic litigation and advocacy to challenge societal injustices.

Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (“CLUE”) is a movement of people of faith in Southern California working to create an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.

Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund (“SALEF”) is an organization that works to promote the civic participation and representation of the Salvadoran and other Latino communities in the U.S., promote the economic development and democracy in El Salvador, as well as to advocate for its economic, educational, and political advancement and growth.

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (“IJDH”) is a U.S.-based human rights non-profit organization. Established in 2004, it is a partnership of human rights advocates in Haiti and the U.S., dedicated to tackling the root causes of injustice that impacts basic human rights in Haiti.

Black Alliance for Just Immigration (“BAJI”) educates and engages African American and black immigrant communities to organize and advocate for racial, social and economic justice. BAJI provides training and technical assistance to partner organizations, organizes faith communities and advocates, and brings together black-led organizations and programs to advance just immigration policies and promote cultural shifts our communities need.

The Crisis in Haiti

  • Since Haiti’s former President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July of 2021, Haiti has been experiencing a dire security situation.

  • The government has lost control over strategic areas to the hands of dangerous armed gangs.

  • These powerful gangs blockaded fuel terminals, cutting off communities from resources like water and medicine, while killing, kidnapping, and robbing Haitian residents. 

  • After more than three years without Cholera cases, a new outbreak started in October 2022. Without clean water and facing widespread hospital shut downs, the country has few resources to prevent Cholera from spreading. 

  • Returns to Haiti are life-threatening, and will continue to be so, until security conditions in Haiti improve. 

Current Reports

Haiti: ‘Take urgent action now’ urges ECOSOC President

16 June 2023 | United Nations

“This plan targets 3.2 million Haitian people whereas around 5.2 million Haitian people are in need. This should be our wake-up call”-Lachezara Stoeva

Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Haiti: Key Recent Developments

June 2023 | IJDH

Since IJDH’s last Update on Human Rights and Rule of Law in Haiti, Haiti’s governance and humanitarian crises have deepened yet further.

Almost 3 million children ‘desperately need protection and support’ in Haiti

15 June 2023 | United Nations

Children find themselves in the crossfire and targeted as armed groups terrorize the population.

"Refuge" in the United States

  • Under international and U.S. law, Haitian’s faced with the humanitarian crisis may seek asylum in the U.S. The U.S. has welcomed Ukrainian asylum seekers while detaining and expelling thousands of Haitian asylum seekers. 

  •  

Haitian refugees
  • In 2021, video of border Patrol agents beating and trampling Haitian asylum seekers as they tried to cross the Rio Grande surfaced.   

  • Instead of planning to help asylum seekers resettle, the White House is considering incarcerating Haitians seeking safety in Guantanamo Bay or forcing them to wait in a third party country.  

  • Haitian asylum seekers continue to face danger in Haiti and racism in the U.S., where they are denied just and equal access to our immigration process, detained in terrible conditions, and subjected to abuse by CBP.  

  • Under Title 42, the Trump and Biden Administrations have conducted mass deportations of Haitian immigrants without providing them a meaningful opportunity to seek asylum.  

  • Haitian asylum seekers are currently being detained in ICE facilities or in encampments at the U.S.-Mexico border.  

  • The Biden administration has taken minimal steps to protect Haitian asylum seekers, but not nearly as many as are needed. Reinstatement of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, investigation into the abusive Border Patrol agents, and improvements to the asylum process help, but many policies and practices remain that target and harm Haitian asylum seekers.

Action Plan

Calling upon the Biden administration and DHS to implement the following policies and practices: 

  • Commit to never incarcerating Haitian, or any, asylum seekers in Guantanamo Bay. 

  • Grant humanitarian parole to Haitian asylum seekers and ensure that they are not forced to wait in a third country or incarcerated while their asylum case is pending. 

  • Ensure that Haitian asylum seekers are not targeted under Title 42, metering policies, or interdiction for exclusion. 

  • Release Haitian immigrants from detention in ICE facilities and from the unsafe, abusive conditions in the encampments at the border. 

  • Ensure that Haitian asylum seekers are provided a fair and just credibility screening and fair access to the court process, including translation services. 

  • Monitor and address disparities in the immigration system, including detention, bond, and denial of asylum. 

  • Halt all deportation to Haiti; grant Deferred Enforced Departure to people from Haiti. 

  • Ensure that Haitian individuals interdicted outside the border are provided a fair opportunity to request asylum and access the asylum process. 

  • Redesignate and extend TPS for Haiti so that recent asylum seekers can be protected. 

  • Support Haiti in rebuilding a safe and healthy democracy without unnecessary U.S. military intervention.

How You Can Help Today

Support non-profits that defend and aid Haitian refugees.

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Led by human rights lawyer and activist Kerry Kennedy, their team of attorneys, issue experts, advocates, entrepreneurs, and writers is united by a commitment to realize Robert Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world.

The Haitian Bridge Alliance advocates for fair and humane immigration policies and connects migrants with humanitarian, legal, and social services

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The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti is a U.S.-based human rights non-profit organization and partnership of human rights advocates in Haiti and the U.S., dedicated to tackling the root causes of injustice that impacts basic human rights in Haiti.

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Haitian-Americans United for Progress (HAUP) provides support though education, training, culture, networking opportunities, and other support services, that allow the community to successfully adapt and thrive.

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