Exclusive: 344 groups call on Biden administration to halt deportations to Haiti

A broad coalition of organizations on Monday called on the Biden administration to expand relief for Haitian migrants, including halting all deportations to the country.

In a letter to President Biden and his top foreign policy and immigration officials, 344 groups said they are “alarmed” that deportation flights to Haiti have proceeded, even after the political and natural crises that have hit the Caribbean nation.

Haiti was hit by an earthquake on Aug. 14 that destroyed around 120,000 homes, killed 2,200 people and injured another 12,000.

Haiti, which has long been the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, was still reeling from the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7 when the earthquake hit.

Still, deportation flights to the country have continued, according to the letter’s signatories, with at least 130 people deported to the country since Moïse’s assassination, including some infants.

“Since February 1, 2021, the Administration sent at least 37 deportation flights to Haiti, even as your officials acknowledged internally that those being deported ‘may face harm’ on return and the COVID-19 pandemic raged,” wrote the groups.

“By March, the Biden-Harris Administration had removed more Haitians since taking office than during all of fiscal year 2020,” they added.

The Biden administration has taken some steps to protect Haitian migrants, most notably expanding the country’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation in May.

That expansion potentially tripled the number of Haitian nationals allowed to remain and work in the United States, with up to 150,000 Haitians eligible for the program.

“The Biden administration already acknowledged how dire the circumstances were in Haiti prior to the earthquake when it redesignated Haiti for TPS. How can they justify any deportations to Haiti now?” said Gabrielle Apollon, supervising attorney and Haiti Project Co-Director at the NYU School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic.

“Deportations should have been halted since COVID-19 began ravaging our world. Halting deportations to Haiti immediately is the least the Biden administration can do to affirm that Black immigrant lives matter,” added Apollon.

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Rafael Bernal