US Urged to Create Easier Pathway for Haitians Seeking Political Asylum

haiti biden
President Joe Biden speaks during. News conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Several Haitian American legislators and groups in New York have called on the Joe Biden administration to “create an easier pathway” for Haitians seeking political asylum in the United States.

In their letter, the elected officials, including New York State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, urged the administration to create this “easier pathway” by lifting the refugee admission ceiling, temporarily halting the deportation of Haitian migrants and providing Haitians with humanitarian aid in the form of food assistance and additional COVID-19 vaccine doses.

“There is a crisis in Haiti that demands our immediate attention as Americans, and begs the continued action of your leadership,” according to the letter that was also signed by New York State Assembly members Michaelle Solages and Kimberly Jean-Pierre; New York City Council Member Farah N. Louis; and Democratic Party nominees for New York City Council Rita Joseph and Chi Osse.

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“Haitian-Americans served en masse as health care workers and frontline essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to give back to our Haitian-American community. Now is the time to protect those who protected us, by ensuring that the relatives of Haitian-Americans living abroad, receive the humanitarian protections necessary to save their lives and livelihoods.

“The United States is a nation built by immigrants in pursuit of freedom, and the promise of a better life. Today, Americans have an opportunity to help the people of Haiti escape persecution,” the letter stated.

“We ask that you employ the full powers of your office to raise the refugee admission ceiling from where it currently stands to help accommodate Haitian applicants; temporarily halt the deportation of Haitian migrants from the US; and supply the people of Haiti with humanitarian aid in the form of food assistance and additional COVID-19 doses.”

Meanwhile, a group of over 200 current and former Haitian American elected officials has also written to the Biden administration, requesting an “urgent” meeting to discuss US policy toward Haiti in the wake of the July 7 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

The Washington-based National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON), considered the largest network of Haitian-American elected and appointed officials in the US, has written to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We have been working to build a relationship with the Biden administration vis-a-vis its foreign policy towards Haiti,” states the letter, signed by NHAEON Chairperson Alix Desulme, a council member in North Miami, Florida.

“While we are pleased with President Biden’s extension of TPS (Temporary Protected Status), we grow weary and frustrated with the lack of communication of the ongoing instability in Haiti,” the letter states, adding “NHAEON members are the elected representatives closest to the Haitian community and have a keen understanding of the dynamics in Haiti and its impact on our communities.

“We are ready to work with you to add value to the trajectory of US foreign policy towards Haiti To this end, we are requesting immediate scheduling of a briefing with your office on the aforementioned issues.”

NHAEON said its members represent millions of constituents across the United States but primarily in Florida, New York and New Jersey.

It said its members are “dedicated to supporting domestic policies, legislation and issues affecting Haitians living in the United States”.