tags: , , , , Press Releases

Congressional Leaders Join Haitian Advocates and Impacted Individuals in Urging Federal Action to Expand Protection for Haitians

Share This:

Recording here

Washington DC – Today, Haiti Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), and Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01) joined an impacted person in Haiti, Haitian-led organizations, advocates, and allies to urge federal action to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Haiti is currently facing a severe humanitarian, political, and security crisis. Medical care, food, water, and other essential resources are in short supply throughout the country due to insecurity and violence, mainly caused by gang conflicts. The situation has become so dire that the country has been declared to be in a state of emergency, with curfews imposed. In just the past few weeks, over 53,000 people have been forced to flee from gang-driven violence. Unfortunately, this widespread issue is escalating day by day.

President Biden declared the United States a close and enduring “friend” of Haiti shortly after taking office. Haitian-led organizations and Congressional leaders are urging the Biden administration to take federal action and expand protections for Haiti by: 

  • Extend and redesignate TPS for Haiti
  • Stop all plans to detain Haitians interdicted at sea at Guantanamo Bay or offshore detention centers 
  • Expedite Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela (CHNV) applications
  • Halt all removals to Haiti by land or sea
  • Release Haitians detained 

A recording of the press call can be found here. Below, you can find quotes from the speakers. 

E*, a directly impacted person in Haiti, said: “What we have been witnessing currently is unprecedented in our country’s history. There has been government complacency in what we’re seeing right now. All of the areas that previously were safe are not safe. The government of Haiti does not have any control of the country. Police officers who are fighting to try to keep things at bay are doing their best, but they don’t know for how long they can continue to fight. The population is left to fend for themselves in this humanitarian crisis. They don’t have anywhere to sleep. Gangs are going around stealing homes and burning everything that they have. There’s no food. There’s no gas. Schools are closed, and no one knows when they will be open again. Gang members are entering neighbors to, again, burn down homes, to rape women, and to take everything that they have. In Port-au-Prince, we see dead bodies everywhere. People are walking over dead bodies, people are burning. You see dogs and pigs eating corpses. As I mentioned, the government cannot do anything to control things that are happening in Haiti, and that is apparent as the only airport in Port-au-Prince was shut down because gangs were shooting at the planes. As I speak to you right now, I’m a potential victim.”

Representative Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), said: “The crisis in Haiti is a humanitarian one that demands a humanitarian response, and the United States must take action to stabilize Haiti and save lives,” said Congresswoman Pressley, Co-Chair of the House Haiti Caucus. “That means immediately halting deportations to Haiti, re-designating TPS for Haiti, cracking down on arms trafficking, supporting a Haitian-led democratic transition, and immediately providing the security, humanitarian, and economic assistance that the island needs. We must move with urgency and compassion – for the sake of the Haitian people, for the Haitian diaspora in Massachusetts and beyond, and for the sake of our shared humanity. I’m grateful to our advocates and my colleagues for their ongoing partnership.”

Representative Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), said: Haiti is experiencing an unprecedented crisis. The lives of countless Haitians are being torn apart by ongoing violence and borderline famine imposed by influential gangs. Crucially, the very firearms fueling this chaos are being smuggled from South Florida into the hands of those who oppress and terrorize innocent men, women, and children. We must confront this challenge head-on. Not only by curtailing the illicit flow of firearms, but also by releasing the Multinational Security Support mission funding for Haiti immediately, to help restore order. The time has come for us to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti and their fight for peace, order, and stability.”

Representative Cori Bush (MO-01,) said:“My heart is with the people of Haiti as they face a devastating humanitarian crisis. We have a moral obligation to protect Haitians fleeing these horrific conditions, and to support Haitian-led solutions that ensure democracy and stability. I urge the Biden Administration to extend and redesignate Haiti for TPS, halt deportations, expand lawful pathways including access to asylum, and support a Haitian-led transition to democracy. I stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti, and with Haitians in St. Louis and around the world, and I’m grateful for the extraordinary advocacy by my colleagues in Congress and in civil society.”

Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), said: “We are calling on the Biden administration and Vice President Harris to look into the causes of foreign displacement in migration of haitians. We are calling for an increase of the CHNV program for Haitians. We are calling for swift and immediate response to reunite families and send the proper and appropriate letters so people can safely migrate. We are calling on a complete halt to all deportations, by air, sea, or land. Anywhere, any port of entry. We must make sure that we say no on caging and imprisoning Haitian refugees in Guantanamo bay… Immigration is a social, racial, justice issue. Immigration is a black issue.”

Tessa Petit, Executive Director of Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), said: “The crisis in Haiti has reached a never before seen level of cruelty and dehumanization.  The country has been closed since February 29th.  People have been dying at a rapid rate, access to healthcare is now practically nonexistent, and access to food is getting more scarce.”  

Paul C. Namphy, Lead Organizer of Family Action Network Movement (FANM), said: “We renew our call for an END to forcible deportations, expulsions, or repatriations of Haitian nationals to Haiti, by air, land, or sea. Inspired by humanitarian law, we echo the Nov. 2022 appeal of UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi to Nation-States to stand in solidarity with Haiti and to NOT return Haitians to a country that is extremely fragile. It is unconscionable that, while the US Government is evacuating its citizens from Haiti and has a Level 4 Travel Advisory in place to Haiti, the Biden Administration is STILL returning Haitians to Haiti, and not extending the planned evacuations to Haitians in Haiti who HAVE BEEN APPROVED by USCIS to travel to the US. We also send a clear message to those contemplating re-opening Guantanamo to detain Haitians. In light of the scars provoked by the mistreatment of our community members at the Naval Base’s detention camp in the 1990’s, we say: ‘GUANTANAMO! NO! NO! NO!’”

Amy Fischer, Director of Refugee and Migrant Rights of Amnesty International, said: “As other states across the region are failing to protect Haitians, the United States must find the moral courage to be the beacon of humanitarian protection that Haitians need. Seeking asylum is a human right—the United States has a moral and legal obligation to uphold that right, as well as an obligation to not remove Haitians to other countries where we know they won’t be protected. Amnesty International USA calls upon the Biden Administration to halt all removals to Haiti, ensure Haitians apprehended at sea can access protection, and for an extension and redesignation of TPS for Haiti.”

Rev. David Nagler, Bishop of the Pacifica Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said: “All the great Abrahamic religious traditions place care for those in need as a top priority for an authentic spiritual life. The greater the need the more urgent the response. Our area of southern California includes one of the busiest border crossings in the world. Many Haitians have come to our communities seeking safety and assistance to care for basic human needs. Some of our churches have welcomed Haitian families and have heard their stories. The cause of Haiti has become deeply personal. Now with the escalation of violence there is a sense of hopelessness that is creeping in. The question before us as a nation is will we make the policy decisions that will protect the vulnerable, provide for basic human needs, and help create a path toward a sustainable and prosperous future? I urge the Biden Administration to act to extend and redesignate TPS for Haiti, pause deportations, ensure access to asylum, and expand key lawful migration pathways that will allow families to reunite safely.”