CGRS Urges Administration to Halt Removals to Haiti

Friday, September 17, 2021

This week the Biden administration resumed deportation and expulsion flights to Haiti, just one month after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and tropical storm ravaged the country. The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) is outraged by this decision, which will result in untold suffering and death. Haiti was highly dangerous for deportees even prior to the natural disasters that struck in August. For months political unrest, accelerated by the assassination of the country’s president, has fueled widespread kidnappings, rapes, and murders. The earthquake and tropical storm upended the lives of over 1.5 million Haitians, deepening the crisis and leaving communities even more vulnerable to violence. We implore the administration to reverse course and immediately halt all removals to Haiti.

As the situation in Haiti deteriorates, we are seeing desperate Haitians seek refuge at the U.S. border and at our shores. The Biden administration should be surging humanitarian resources to bring them to safety. Instead, our government is choosing to return Haitians to a country in crisis without a shred of due process by ramping up illegal expulsion flights and interdicting those fleeing Haiti by sea. The administration seems to believe these cruel tactics will deter Haitians from coming to the United States in the first place, a notion that is as irrational as it is callous. Haitians risk everything on the dangerous and traumatic journey to U.S. territory because it is their only chance at survival.

The Biden administration’s egregious response in this moment follows a long and shameful history of U.S. abuses against Haitian refugees. “From Guantanamo Bay to the heightened use of detention centers in the 1970s, and the metering policy, it is disappointing to see that this administration chose to continue with this same narrative,” Guerline Jozef, co-founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance said in a statement today.

“Returning Haitians to such dire conditions is morally and legally indefensible,” CGRS Legal Director Blaine Bookey added. “For a president who has proudly called himself a ‘friend’ to Haiti, it should be unthinkable. The Biden administration needs to stop playing politics with human lives, immediately halt removals to Haiti, and restore a safe and fair asylum process for Haitians and all others seeking safety in the United States.”

Earlier today Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez led 54 of their colleagues in a letter urging the Biden administration to stop deportations to Haiti and extend humanitarian parole to Haitians arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.