Washington, DC – The horrifying images of U.S. Border Patrol’s mistreatment of Haitians at our southern border are indefensible. In addition to investigating and holding accountable those responsible, the U.S. government needs to stop deporting Haitians to a country the U.S. government has said Haitians should not be deported to.
Leading observers have been unsparing in their outrage and calls for change:
- Guerline Jozef, Haitian Bridge Alliance: ”We are in utter disbelief that the Biden Administration would deport Haitians now. Hours after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, President Joe Biden released a statement saying that the United States was a ‘friend” of Haiti. A “friend” does not continuously inflict pain on another friend. And yet, today, just one month after this devastating earthquake and storm that resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 Haitians, injured 12,000 people, damaged or destroyed 120,000 homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, the Administration sent a plane full of families to Haiti under Title 42, including children under the age of three, without offering them legal protection and the opportunity to file for asylum.”
- Patrice Lawrence, Undocublack Network: “Ten to 15,000 people is nothing for the U.S. government to handle. That is not a crisis, that is a choice. That is a choice that is being made by this administration to say Black people are not worthy of care. I think that their next steps need to be grounded in a system of compassion, of care and of equity and justice that the Biden administration, the Biden-Harris administration, promised they would do.”
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “The images of inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants by Border Patrol—including the use of whips—are unacceptable. They are fleeing violence and natural disasters and seeking protection in our country. The Administration must uphold our refugee laws and stop Title 42 deportations.”
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “Reports of the mistreatment of Haitian migrants fleeing violence and devastation from natural disasters are deeply troubling, including the inappropriate use of what appear to be whips by Border Patrol officers on horseback to intimidate migrants … All migrants seeking asylum must be treated in accordance with the law and with basic decency. Any acts of aggression or violence cannot be tolerated and must be investigated.”
- Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA): “We have a moral obligation to lead with compassion. It is unconscionable that there would still be massive, unjust deportations of Haitian asylum seekers. Of children and families. It’s cruel. It’s callous. And it needs to stop.”
- Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY): “This is inhuman and utterly unacceptable. I am calling for an immediate investigation into these videos and photos from Del Rio showing U.S. @CBP’s treatment of Haitian migrants along the border. Whips in 2021? The nerve.”
- Lee Gelernt of the ACLU to CBS News: “The image of Border Patrol officers on horses chasing black immigrants was horrifying … The situation of Haitian families at the Del Rio bridge is dramatically illustrating what has thus far been largely out of sight, which is that the Biden administration has not in fact distanced itself on asylum policy from the Trump administration.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
The horrifying and dehumanizing treatment of Haitians at our southern border by American law enforcement throws salt on unhealed wounds in our nation. We came to expect cruelty under the Trump Administration. We expect much better from the Biden Administration.
DHS needs to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for any and all mistreatment of Haitians seeking to exercise their legal right to asylum. Border Patrol has operated with impunity for too long. This is the moment to show that a new administration will have zero tolerance for brutality.
But the changes need to go beyond just the Border Patrol. We should not be deporting Haitians back to a country ravaged by natural disaster and political instability. Just recently, the Biden Administration did the right thing by extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the U.S. This decision was based on an analysis that the country conditions warrant a cessation of deportations to Haiti. Those conditions still exist, and a cessation of all deportations to Haiti is warranted.
Going forward, we need to push forward to build the fair, orderly and humane asylum system that the administration has promised, expand legal pathways for those desperate to be safe and join family, and, over time, address root causes that generate forced migration.
Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, our government has singled out Haitians for exclusion, deportation, detention, and denial of basic human rights. It’s time for this administration to break with the past and chart a new course by providing humanitarian assistance to those in distress, ending Title 42 and metering, and opening up pathways for Haitians to exercise their legal right to request protection under U.S. law.