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ICYMI: Biden Administration Continues Deportations to Haiti Amid Desperate and Dangerous Conditions

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Biden Administration responsible for more than 80 deportation flights to Haiti since September 19

As Widlore Mérancourt and Paulina Villegas report for the Washington Post, chaotic and dangerous conditions in Haiti are increasing migration pressures on the already destabilized island nation. Increasing numbers of Haitians are being forced to flee, making a potentially fatal journey by sea to escape crushing poverty, political instability, and widespread gang violence.

In a year that saw COVID-19 exacerbate the impact of a devastating earthquake and a presidential assassination, conditions on the ground in Haiti have deteriorated. Despite the desperate conditions prompting families to risk their lives, Haitian migrants are being deported with terrifying expediency by the Biden Administration and they’re the most likely to be denied asylum in the U.S. 

The Biden Administration must act urgently to end Title 42, a cruel Trump era policy that thousands of Haitians are being expelled under without the opportunity to make their case for asylum. The ongoing expulsions and singling out of Haitians is a stain on President Biden’s commitment to undoing the harm caused by his predecessor and indicates President Biden’s treatment of Haitians is motivated by racism rather than reason.

The article is excerpted below and available in full here.

“There was nothing but darkness around them. Darkness and desperation.

“We are lost,” the captain told four dozen men, women and children squeezed tightly together on a flimsy wooden boat somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. “There is no hope.”

Jeff Pierre thought of the 2-year-old son he left back in Haiti. He imagined what it would be like for the boy to grow up without a father and started crying.

…Frustrated by Haiti’s rising gang violence, political turmoil and dire economy, they’d decided to take the ultimate risk: embarking on a perilous journey by sea that has claimed the lives of an untold number of migrants.

…Though much attention has been paid to the swell of Haitians who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in September, another, less visible spike in migration has been taking place by sea as the nation’s humanitarian and political crisis deepens.

The massive flight of Haitians by sea, air and land has now begun to have regional implications around the Caribbean and Latin America, prompting several nations to impose new, strict requirements for migrants and to expedite deportations. As the Haitians’ options narrow, advocates say they’re opting for riskier journeys.

“This is not stopping,” said Giuseppe Loprete, the International Organization for Migration chief of mission in Haiti. “We will see migrants going in one direction or another, as the situation here will not get any better anytime soon.”

…The increasingly restrictive immigration controls have left migrants with fewer formal channels for migration, analysts say.

…Those who do reach the United States have little chance of qualifying for asylum, despite the growing violence and instability. Scores are being expeditiously deported under Title 42, a public health law that has been used to return thousands of migrants since the start of the pandemic.

Although the Biden administration extended temporary protected status for Haitians until 2023, the protection only applies to those who are already living in the United States.

Pierre, who said he spent all the money he had on the failed trip, is now working as a carpenter and an electrician, struggling to take care of his family.

“I have no country because there is nothing for me here,” Pierre said. “If I hear of another trip by boat tonight, I am leaving Haiti.”