#WelcomeWithDignity: Biden Administration Must Not Return Haitians to Devastation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 16, 2021

CONTACT: Bilal Askaryar | press@welcomewithdignity.org 

 

#WelcomeWithDignity: Biden Administration Must Not Return Haitians to Devastation

 

Washington, D.C. — Following the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Saturday, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign implores the Biden administration to halt all expulsion and deportation flights to the country. Last week the Biden administration resumed removal flights to Haiti, returning approximately 130 Haitians despite conditions of violence and political instability that rendered the country incredibly unsafe even prior to the earthquake. The earthquake has further exacerbated dangers, displacing thousands of Haitians, destroying homes and schools, and overwhelming the country’s hospitals. The quake’s death toll continues to climb. For the Biden administration to continue returning Haitians to such dire conditions would be unconscionable and a shameful abandonment of our human rights obligations.

 

“My question is whether it is the goal of the U.S. government to continue to contribute to the destabilization of Haiti?” asked Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. How can the U.S. government deport anyone to Haiti right now? How do they think so little of Haitian lives, deporting children and babies in the middle of the chaos? This is a clear example of external violence that continues to deepen the instability in Haiti. What is the purpose of sending a two-year old to Haiti right now? It cannot be deterrence, we all know that deterrence does not work. We also want to know who in Haiti’s government is accepting these flights, which is a form of internal violence? We need answers from both the United States and Haiti.” 

 

“It is unconscionable for the U.S. government to forcibly remove anyone to Haiti right now. Even before the latest earthquake, the country was experiencing high levels of insecurity culminating in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse just weeks ago,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Indeed, the government has recognized the dire conditions in Haiti by extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to some Haitians. Continued removals to Haiti simply cannot be squared with that recognition. Instead of continuing to forcibly and unlawfully push individuals, including infants and pregnant people, into harm’s way, we should focus U.S. resources on supporting relief organizations that center Haitian, community-led solutions.”

 

“The lives of Haitian people are in jeopardy once again after this recent earthquake, which compounds the harm of a destabilized government, ongoing violence, and an overwhelmed public health system in the face of COVID-19,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director of the National Immigrant Justice Center. “We call on the Biden administration to immediately end all removals, expulsions, and maritime interdictions back to Haiti. True solidarity with this nation requires ending practices that return people to harm and offering humanitarian assistance and legal protection to Haitians seeking refuge.”

 

“At a moment when there is such great need for relief in Haiti, the U.S. should not add to the chaos and instability by deporting Haitians in the U.S. back to this nation in crisis. The Biden administration should cease deportation flights from the U.S., including Title 42 expulsions, and ensure the full and proper implementation of TPS by enrolling Haitian citizens living in the U.S. without delay,” said Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice.

 

For over 200 days the Biden administration has watched the people of Haiti suffer through violence, political instability, COVID-19, and now a devastating earthquake all while consciously continuing deportation flights. We call on the Biden administration to stop adding to the turmoil and suffering by ending deportation flights and expulsions back to Haiti immediately. It is past time for this administration to embrace Haitians with dignity. Our legal and moral obligations demand it,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, Executive Director, Immigrant Defenders Law Center

 

“Earthquake relief is long-term, meaning it takes a country years to recover especially if they have scarcity of resources,” said Dr. Jessica Hernandez (Maya Ch’orti/Binnizá), Climate Justice Policy Strategist at International Mayan League. “Forcefully sending Haitians back to their country as they try to rebuild their economy, country, and communities coupled with violence and political instability places them in a more vulnerable state. As the United States, our administration can do more to support this humanitarian and environmental crisis.”

 

“It is crystal clear that now is not the time for the United States to be forcibly removing anyone to Haiti, and frankly it has been dangerous to do so for months now,” said Leah Chavla, senior policy advisor at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). “Sending people back in the midst of a natural disaster—and one that could be aggravated in coming days by a tropical depression, on top of political turmoil and violence following the recent assassination of the president—will only exacerbate human suffering. WRC welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to redesignate Haiti for TPS in May and applauded the extension of eligibility for TPS through the end of July 2021. We call on the administration to again do its part by halting deportations and expulsions of Haitians and by sending much-needed resources to relief organizations that center and directly support affected communities in Haiti.”

“It is crucial for the Biden administration to extend the designation date for TPS so that Haitians who arrive in the U.S. after July 29, 2021 are not forced back to a country in the midst of recovering from a devastating natural disaster, and which was already struggling with a profound political and security crisis,” said Sara Ramey, Executive Director of the Migrant Center for Human Rights. “It is also incumbent on Congress to update the TPS system to allow for continuous automatic designation and renewal of TPS when circumstances have failed to improve. As circumstances stand, many Haitians face deportation when they arrive one day after the arbitrary designation date announced by the administration, regardless of whether the situation has improved.”

“Forcing people to return to Haiti during a time where there is widespread structural damage, overcrowded hospitals, and political instability is a violent act by the U.S. government,” said Jonathan Goldman, Executive Director of the Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice. “SCIJ calls on the Biden administration to immediately halt and end all deportations and expulsions of Haitians and instead focus our country’s resources on supporting the people of Haiti through humanitarian and legal assistance.”

 

Despite the continuing political turmoil and instability, the persecution of those who resist, the COVID-19 crisis, and the assassination of the President, the United States’s ICE Air operated 2 deportation flights filled with people last week to Haiti. Now with the earthquake, what was indefensible before is absolutely amoral. The Biden Administration must stop all deportations to Haiti,” said Thomas Cartwright, Leadership Team, Witness at the Border.

 

“In order to live up to his repeated promises to stand with the Haitian community, President Biden must immediately cease all deportations and expulsions to Haiti,” said Jane Bentrott, Counsel at Justice Action Center. “It is both unconscionable and unlawful to force Haitians to return to conditions that the Biden Administration deemed dire when it extended the TPS designation for Haitian nationals. Saturday’s deadly earthquake has compounded the instability those in Haiti already faced. The United States must respond by providing humanitarian assistance — not contributing to the destabilization and chaos.”

 

“It is grossly inhumane for the United States to deport people to Haiti as that nation deals with a rising death toll and shattered infrastructure from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, continuing political instability and violence, a public health crisis in the face of COVID-19, and the fast-approaching Tropical Depression Grace,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director for the National Partnership for New Americans. “If the United States is a nation of refuge that humanely treats people seeking life and relief, including Black people, then it must immediately cease expulsion and deportation flights to Haiti. And it must end Title 42, reopen paths to asylum, and work closely with community-based organizations and legal services providers to implement Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. Ultimately, it must respect the right of Haitians to determine their own solutions and the future of the first Black Republic of the Western Hemisphere.”

 

“The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties joins with the Haitian Bridge Alliance and the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign calling on the Biden administration to halt expulsions and deportations to Haiti. Instead of returning Haitian people to even more perilous conditions that will ensure their need to flee once more, the U.S. government must invest in an asylum system that welcomes people seeking safety with humanity and respect,” said Norma Chávez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

 

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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 85 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org