tags: , , , , , Press Releases

From Promise to Disillusionment: Expansion of MPP and New Report on Haitian Deportations Underscore Growing Disillusionment with Biden Administration Border Policies

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Washington, DC – Reports of internal opposition at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the Biden administration’s systematic deportations of Haitians and the administration’s re-start – and expansion – of the MPP/Remain in Mexico program underscore growing disillusionment with the Biden administration’s border and immigration policies. Among the key reactions:

  • Hamed Aleaziz of BuzzFeed News reports, “An Internal Document Shows DHS Officials Advised Against Haitian Deportations, Fearing They Could Violate Human Rights Obligations,” writing that the DHS civil rights office issued an internal memo in August “warning to immigration and border officials that deporting Haitians to their volatile home country risked violating US civil and human rights obligations” and “sheds new light on how some within the department had deep concerns about the safety of Haitians who could be sent back.” As the BuzzFeed piece reminds, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi labeled the deportations “inconsistent with international norms” while Daniel Foote, the US envoy to Haiti under the Biden administration, resigned in protest, calling the deportations “inhumane” and “counterproductive.”
  • Nicole Phillips, professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and legal director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance per BuzzFeed: “The situation for Haitians who have been deported back to Haiti is extremely dire. Everybody faces danger right now, but those who’ve been deported face an extra layer of danger.”
  • Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, noted on a Welcome With Dignity press call last Friday: “There is no protection under the Remain in Mexico policy. There is only persecution of people looking for safety. MPP was unacceptable under Trump, and it is unacceptable under Biden. Instead of working to fulfill their campaign promise of an orderly, safe, and humane immigration system, the Biden-Harris Administration chose to expand the cruel Trump MPP policy to include all countries in the Western Hemisphere.”
  • Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director of Justice Action Center, also said on the same press call last week, “The Biden administration has made a deliberate choice to expand the Remain in Mexico program to apply to nationals of any country in the Western Hemisphere, including nationals of Haiti, Jamaica, and Brazil, among others—despite knowing that Black asylum seekers are particularly at risk of violence in Mexican border areas. The courts did not force this; this is anti-Blackness.”
  • Sue Kenney-Pfalzer, Director of Border and Asylum Network at HIAS told CNN about the restart of MPP: “It’s lipstick on a pig. But it’s still a pig. MPP is just plain inhumane. It’s a little less inhumane perhaps, but it’s still inhumane. Now that it’s here and we have no choice, we’re going to figure out a way to get services to people.”
  • The Round Table of Former Immigration Judges, consisting of 51 former immigration judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals, noted in a statement per CNN: “Tragically, to comply with a most misguided court order, the Biden administration, which promised us better, is today not only resuming the program with most of its cruelty intact, but expanding its scope to now apply to nationals of all Western Hemisphere countries.”
  • MSNBC and Peacock TV Host Mehdi Hasan blasts Biden’s reinstituting of MPP: In a powerful segment that aired last night, Hasan noted “Aside from voting rights, I cannot think of an issue on which the Biden administration has been more disappointing than immigration.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“The unconscionable deportation of Haitians back to the chaos and lawlessness of Haiti was the defining moment in the Biden administration’s reversion to a deterrence-focused outlook toward asylum seekers and migrants. It was a turning point away from the American people and towards the unpopular policies of the previous president. As the new reports document, many internal DHS and administration experts were adamantly opposed to the decision, which disregarded the concerns of both our moral and legal obligations. 

Now with the restart and expansion of Remain in Mexico, President Biden is continuing to retreat from his early promise, and promises, for a more humane and holistic approach to managing immigration effectively, rather than suppressing it cruelly. Instead, the Biden administration is embracing a damaging course that seems designed to seek political cover they will never receive from those who consume Fox and Breitbart, rather than to live up to Biden’s commitment to a fair, humane and orderly immigration system.”