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Deportations to Haiti a Disgrace, Must End

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May 17, 2024

Following reports that the Biden administration has continued deadly deportation flights to Haiti, Blaine Bookey, Legal Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), offered the following comment:

“I first started working in Haiti 20 years ago, on the heels of the second coup of one of Haiti's first democratically elected leaders. The situation was dire. The country has since been struck by myriad political and natural disasters, each seemingly more devastating than the next. But the catastrophic events of the last several months have been unprecedented in scale, bringing the country to a breaking point. Every day I am in touch with Haitian human rights defenders who, at grave risk to their own lives, are trying to make their country safe for those who remain, and those who cannot escape. They are documenting brutal murders and rapes perpetrated by gang members with impunity. They are providing food and water to detainees in rural prisons – many being held without any formal charge – where gangs have cut off supply routes. They are speaking up to hold transitional leaders accountable and prevent future atrocities.”

“Deportation flights to Haiti are undermining these critical efforts, plunging the country into further chaos and forcing even more to flee. I have met many Haitian migrants languishing in Mexico who have already sought protection at our border – only to be unjustly expelled or deported back to Haiti. They have braved yet another dangerous trek in search of refuge, knowing that the alternative could amount to a death sentence. Deportations to Haiti are a disgrace. They protect no one. They ‘deter’ no one. They violate our laws and treaty obligations, legal guidance from the UN Refugee Agency, and basic principles of humanity. They must end.”

CGRS calls on the Biden administration to instead preserve and expand pathways to safety by:

  • Halting all removal flights and at-sea repatriations to Haiti, to ensure no Haitian is returned to harm, and encouraging other countries in the region to do the same;

  • Extending and redesignating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti;

  • Releasing Haitian immigrants and asylum seekers held in U.S. immigration detention;

  • Expediting applications and expanding the availability of parole for Haitians through the CHNV program;

  • Adequately staffing ports of entry and improving infrastructure to process Haitians seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border; and

  • Rejecting any plans to detain Haitians interdicted at sea at Guantanamo Bay or other offshore detention facilities.