Congresswoman Yvette Clarke Calls on ICE to Address Haitian Deportations

Yvette Clarke
Yvette Clarke

Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has joined the United States House of Representatives’ chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, in urging the acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, Tae Johnson, to immediately stop what they described as the “targeted” deportations of Haitians.

Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York and Thompson met late last week with Johnson on the matter.

“As members of the House Homeland Security Committee, this call was imperative,” Clarke told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on Monday. “Haiti is facing a delicate political landscape that could cause disproportionate harm to wrongfully deported immigrants.

“As the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, I can confidently say, our immigration system is broken,” she added. “The targeted deportation to Haiti illustrates the violence exacted on immigrant communities – particularly immigrant communities of colour.

“I realize ICE must carry out its mission in line with legal precedents. However, this must be done in a way that is sensitive to humanitarian needs for recent border crossers,” Clarke continued.

Thompson said that, “as the Joe Biden administration implements immigration policies that are more in line with our American values and priorities, it is imperative that they assist migrants from Haiti and take into account conditions on the ground in their country.

“Continuing with deportations to Haiti risks further destabilization, and I encourage the administration to consider all possible options to prevent further harm,” he urged.

On January 20, 2021, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to revise its immigration enforcement guidance to “safeguard the dignity and well-being of all families and communities.”

In response, Acting Secretary David Pekoske imposed an immediate, 100-day moratorium on the vast majority of deportations.

But, on January 26, a Texas judge suspended President Biden’s moratorium.

“Let me be very clear, the administration’s moratorium on deportations is not only lawful but necessary to ensure that families are not separated, and people are not subjected to unnecessary danger while the administration reviews the past actions of the xenophobic Trump administration,” said Clarke, who on February 8, joined a coalition of Democrats in penning a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, demanding a halt in the mass deportations of Black immigrants.

Last week, two immigration advocacy groups in New York called on Biden to intervene immediately in stopping what they described as the mass deportation of Haitians.

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State, and the Brooklyn-based Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees said that, since February 1, ICE agency has deported roughly 300 Haitians.

The group said “another shameful 1800 deportations” are expected in the next two weeks.

“ICE’s aggressive approach is in line with the Trump-era policy of targeting Black migrants,” said the groups in a statement, demanding “the immediate intervention from the Biden White House.”

“It’s no surprise that ICE kicked off Black History Month by terrorizing Black immigrants and tearing apart their families,” said Murad Awawdeh and Rovika Rajkishun, interim co-executive directors of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“After all, this is the same agency that recklessly opened fire on a Brooklyn street and snatched up immigrant New Yorkers outside courthouses schools and off the street,” they added. “Taking their cue from Trump’s contempt for Black and immigrant communities, this week’s actions prove that ICE is thumbing its nose at President Biden’s executive orders and directives by continuing its mass deportation agenda.

“But the Trump-era is over, and the Biden administration must rein in this rogue agency,” Awawdeh and Rajkishun continued. “As the organization representing the state with one of the oldest and largest Haitian communities in the country, the New York Immigration Coalition demands that President Biden immediately end these deportation flights to keep New York families together, especially during a public health crisis.”

Ninaj Raoul, executive director, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, said: “We at Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees are outraged by the discriminatory deportations that continue to be carried out by ICE amid a global pandemic, a serious political crisis in Haiti, and a surge in kidnapping terrorism by government-backed gangs.

“In the same week that President Biden signed an executive order to launch a task force to reunite families separated by the Trump administration, this White House is deporting Haitians, including children and infants in record numbers,” she said. “This is a cruel contradiction that will further separate many families.

“It is simply careless and inhumane to deport individuals to Haiti, knowingly putting innocent people who have migrated to survive in harm’s way,” Raoul added. “These deportations are wrongheaded, and current plans to deport 1800 more Haitians to Haiti in the next two weeks must be stopped now.”

The reported mass deportation comes as a major Haitian immigration advocacy group in Miami in mid-December wholeheartedly welcomed the United States’ extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals from Haiti until October 4, 2021.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in December that it was also extending TPS, until the same time, for beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan.

“This is wonderful news!” exclaimed Marleine Bastien, the Haitian-born Executive Director of Family Action Network Movement (FANM). “Folks have been frantic and restless worrying about the January deadline.

“TPS holders and their families can rest easier after months of anguish,” she added.

But Bastien said, while her organization and Haitian TPS beneficiaries were relieved by the US government’s decision, “TPS recipients need permanent and not temporary protection.

“FANM will continue to organize our members and fight for those in the (US) Senate to pass The Dream and Promise Act,” she said. “We will not stop until we have a path to permanent residency for all TPS holders.

“We urge the Senate to act promptly to find a permanent solution for all TPS recipients and their families,” Bastien added.

CMC

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