Advocates ‘in utter disbelief’ after Biden resumes Haitian repatriations

Human rights advocates are enraged at the Biden administration for resuming repatriation flights to Haiti, despite the country’s ongoing political, economic and environmental disasters.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday expelled 86 Haitian nationals from the United States and flew them back to Haiti.

“That ICE would continue to carry out the mass deportations of our Haitian neighbors—with Haiti in the midst of its worst political, public health and economic crises yet—is cruel and callous,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

ICE did not return a request for comment, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE’s parent agency, confirmed the flight took place.

”We are in utter disbelief that the Biden Administration would deport Haitians now. Hours after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, President Joe Biden released a statement saying that the United States was a ‘friend” of Haiti. A ‘friend’ does not continuously inflict pain on another friend,” said Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance.

“And yet, today, just one month after this devastating earthquake and storm that resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 Haitians, injured 12,000 people, damaged or destroyed 120,000 homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, the Administration sent a plane full of families to Haiti under Title 42, including children under the age of three, without offering them legal protection and the opportunity to file for asylum,” added Jozef.

Migrants expelled under Title 42 are repatriated to their home countries without the possibility of requesting asylum under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Migrant advocates have called on the Biden administration to end Title 42, a border management policy enacted under the Trump administration, but so far those calls have not been heeded.

Haitians subjected to Title 42 are for the most part people who have recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, and many have spent months traveling through Latin America and waiting for an opportunity to claim asylum at Mexican border cities, mainly Tijuana.

Defenders of Haitian migrants are particularly enraged about the Biden administration’s decision to repatriate Haitians, as DHS recently designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a program that suspends deportations to countries that have been hit by natural or man made disasters.

“The news of renewed Haitian deportation flights is the type of morally indefensible news we would have expected from the Trump Administration, not the Biden Administration. Given the instability and suffering on the ground in Haiti, the last thing we should be doing is deporting Haitians. These deportation flights should stop, full stop,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.

Haiti, already racked by instability, is struggling to recover from an earthquake in August and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July.

Following a devastating earthquake in 2010, the Obama administration halted deportations to Haiti for over a year, a consideration that has not been repeated by the Biden administration.

“The Biden Administration must immediately halt all deportations to Haiti, return these individuals to the United States, and abandon the harmful Title 42 order that has been weaponized to deny families their fundamental right to seek asylum. The Biden Administration has a moral obligation to lead with compassion and support those fleeing from the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Haiti,” said Pressley.

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Rafael Bernal