Caribbean-American Legislators Call for Immediate Halt of Haitian Deportations

haitian migrants ap
Migrants, many from Haiti, wait to board a bus to Houston at a humanitarian center after they were released from United States Border Patrol upon crossing the Rio Grande and turning themselves in seeking asylum, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Caribbean-American legislators have intensified their outrage over the deportation of Haitian migrants from southern Texas, calling on President Joe Biden to immediately halt the repatriation of the migrants.

The Biden administration last Saturday began deporting thousands of Haitians who have gathered at the southern border, after illegally entering the US, overwhelming the South Texas town of Del Rio.

“More than 14,000 Haitian migrants will be expelled from the United States in the coming weeks, and it is unconscionable DHS (Department of Homeland Security) would seek to return Haitian migrants to a country in turmoil,” Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

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“My colleagues and I have repeatedly spoken out and penned numerous letters requesting the ceasing of targeted deportations of Haitian migrants,” said Clarke, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.

“However, this dangerous and wholly unnecessary practice continues,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who chairs the US Congressional Black Caucus Immigration Task Force and co-chairs the House of Representatives’ Haiti and House Caribbean Caucuses.

The Congresswoman noted that Haiti is still reeling from a series of compounding crises including rising coronavirus (COVID-19) rates and vaccine hesitancy; a political crisis stemming from President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination; increased gang violence; a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, where more than 800,000 people have been affected, and 650,000 are still in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.

“I am calling for a humanitarian moratorium on these targeted deportations. Now, more than ever, we must reimagine the immigration system in a humane, just and fair manner,” she said.

“I am the daughter of immigrant parents from Jamaica, and this is personal to me. I have dedicated my career to building an immigration system that lets people live without fear and gives immigrants – like my parents – who sought a better life and to contribute to our nation, a fair opportunity to thrive.”

Additionally, despite the decision of US Senate parliamentarians over the weekend to exclude a proposal to create pathways to citizenship for young immigrants, known as “Dreamers”, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, such as Haitians, farm-workers and essential workers in the reconciliation process, Clarke urged the US Congress to “remain committed to advancing alternative proposals for comprehensive immigration reform.”

New York City Council Member Farah Louis, vice co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus in the City Council, said she was “absolutely disgusted with the Biden administration and the inhumane treatment of our Haitian sisters and brothers in Del Rio, Texas.

“Haitian American elected officials across the country are working collaboratively to support the families who are being processed to determine their next steps,” Louis, the daughter of Haitian immigrants told CMC.

“The US is supposed to lead by example, extending compassion and treating human beings with dignity and respect. Instead, we have seen an expeditious expulsion, which contradicts the administration’s recognition of the ongoing political and health crises in Haiti within the last two months that have caused thousands to seek refuge elsewhere,” she said.

“The suppression of Black people, partially from the Caribbean or West Indies, despite our contributions through public service, local economy and cultural footprint throughout this nation’s history speaks volume. We are here to make it clear that we will persist until these deportations cease, and Haitian migrants are given the same opportunity to seek asylum like so many others who arrived here before them”, Louis added.

Last weekend, another Haitian American legislator, New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, requested that Biden halt the expulsion of the tens of thousands of Haitian migrants from the Texas Bridge.

The DHS said in a statement that it was “immediately implementing a new, comprehensive strategy to address the increase in migrant encounters in the Del Rio sector of South Texas.”

The DHS said it has already taken a number of steps to ensure the safety and security of individuals, as they await processing, including having Border Patrol emergency medical technicians on hand and providing water, towels and portable toilets.

The White House has directed appropriate US agencies to work with the Haitian and other regional governments to provide assistance and support to returnees, the DHS said.




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