A recording of the call is available here.
Earlier today, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO-01) joined Black immigrant advocates and impacted Haitians on a press call to discuss the conditions immigrants face when deported back to Haiti. Earlier this year the Biden Administration redesignated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) because conditions on the ground were unsafe and quickly deteriorating, and now following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, devastating hurricanes, and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, conditions on the ground have continued to destabilize. Despite that, the Biden Administration has made the decision to expel thousands of Black immigrants to Haiti even though the widespread violence, kidnappings, and food insecurity render the country unsafe for return. Especially for migrants who have not lived in Haiti for years, forced return to a country where they may have no family, no job prospects, and no secure housing is a path to abject poverty and danger.
Those gathered on the call went in depth on the conditions on the ground in Haiti that migrants face upon expulsion, and called on the Biden Administration to end the racist, inhumane treatment of Black immigrants.
Representative Cori Bush (D-MO-01), said, “Outrage does not begin to describe what I felt as we saw the images of black migrants being whipped and chased on horseback with nothing in their hands for water and food. Outraged that there are inhumane violent human rights and the immigration system was denying asylum to those fleeing political unrest and climate catastrophe. Outraged that Trump administration policies like title 42 still have not been rescinded by a president who rants on bringing justice and mercy to our immigration system. CBP recounts the story of what happened under the bridge with an error of pride. They treated asylum seekers like a public relations nightmare and immigration system that measures success by the rate they make asylum seekers disappear, not by the number of lives they saved, which is an irredeemable system. I’m calling on the Biden administration to immediately halt all deportations, revoke title 42, and provide accountable humanitarian aid to Haiti.”
Guerline Jozef, Co-founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, said “The veil has fallen and the world has seen how the U.S. is treating survivors of an environmental disaster. The world is watching the Haitian community and the Black community and we are saying in unison, enough is enough. The voices of the people who have risked their lives, the voices of the women and babies’ cries will be heard this time. The Biden administration has literally created a war on Black bodies at the border. We are demanding accountability and asking the Biden administration to stop these deportations now. BuildBackBetter requires that the US provides protection for immigrants. The soul of America demands that the deportations be stopped, or at least paused while the investigation into what happened at the border continues.”
Ninaj Raoul, Executive Director, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, said, “What we saw last week were the images of our brothers and sisters coming over, searching for food for their families and milk for their babies as there were no supplies where they were being kept. We watched the men on horses forcibly separate them, forcing some to go back, not allowing the families to be rejoined, and blocking family members from returning with food to their families, which is outright cruel. But, this was unsurprising. The mistreatment of refugees and separation of families has been consistent. We have been working with Haitian refugees for 29 years –Since 1992 when they were kept in Guantanamo Bay being treated the same way we are seeing people being treated on the border– what the whole world watched last week. We have seen it for quite some time now– most notably during the Trump administration, but quite frankly we saw it during the Obama administration as well. This current administration has adopted the same practices of the Trump administration. People are fleeing to survive. So long as the United States continues to ignore and fails to address the root causes of mass migration, people will continue to come, regardless of the deterrence methods used by the Biden administration. If the root causes are not addressed, people will continue to come. People are coming, no matter how many people you deport, people will come.”
Breanne Palmer, Interim Policy & Advocacy Director of the UndocuBlack Network, said, “The UndocuBlack Network knows that what the world has just seen is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the experiences of Black immigrants–whether we are being brutalized at the border, being neglected and abused in detention, being restrained and forced onto deportation flights, or simply existing in America in our Black bodies that are routinely criminalized and targeted. We also know that America’s system of mass detention for immigrants began with the practice of detaining Haitian immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s. The UndocuBlack Network takes the long view–we know our history and we understand how we got to this present moment. President Biden must end Title 42 now and chart a different, more humane course for the future.”
“It was a living nightmare and very traumatizing. When my children and I got to the bridge, I couldn’t believe the amount of people there. It took hours of walking to find a place to rest. My children and I slept on a sheet for seven days without a blanket. There were cold nights and I had nothing to keep my children warm. There were no places to purchase food where we were so I witnessed a lot of people who went days without food or eating proper meals. We had no access to water under the bridge. Some journalists handed out food, but it wasn’t enough. We had to make do. I witnessed people who had crossed the river back to Mexico to get water for pregnant women and children and families who could not journey back. However, some who were returning were met by horsemen and couldn’t get to their families or to the people they were trying to help. I witnessed pregnant women going into labor taken in to give birth and then sent back under the bridge without further access to healthcare. And that was really heartbreaking for me, I’ll never forget that,” said E.L. (a pseudonym), a Directly impacted individual.