Washington, D.C.—As thousands of desperate Haitians fleeing instability and violence, including children, wait amid squalid conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) urges the Biden Administration to immediately halt all deportations and interdictions of Haitian refugees and allow them to seek protection in the United States. Ramping up deportations and sending Haitians in fear of harm back to a country still convulsing from a series of crises violates international law and is morally unacceptable. Haiti is still in the throes of a debilitating earthquake and destructive storms last month that killed over 2,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. Those natural disasters came on the heels of a man-made crisis in July when the country’s president was assassinated, triggering a power struggle. Sending migrants back to a hobbled Haiti is unconscionable.
KIND President Wendy Young notes, “We have a responsibility, rooted in both the law and our values, to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that we never knowingly send anyone back to harm. The Biden Administration is completely disregarding these obligations by returning planeloads of Haitians to danger and interdicting them at sea. The Administration should recognize the dire humanitarian crisis in Haiti and stop returns now. Policies designed to deter people fleeing for their lives do not work, but rather exacerbate their desperation. There is no other moral course of action.”
KIND is urging the Biden Administration to re-open the border to all Haitian asylum seekers to ensure that they are not returned to Mexico under Title 42 or the Migrant Protection Protocols, or subject to metering at the border while being held in miserable conditions. KIND notes that in addition to these steps to ensure safety for Haitians fleeing for their lives, the United States should offer other vital support that can ultimately help restore stability and safety in Haiti following a particularly precarious time.
In the meantime, the Biden Administration should ensure that the more than 12,000 Haitian migrants at the U.S.’s southern border, many living in squalor-like conditions in encampments, swiftly receive comprehensive emergency aid. As it quickly works to process all awaiting U.S. protection and move these individuals to safety, the United States should do all that it can to protect these Haitians from unsafe, unsanitary conditions that might further endanger their well-being and safety.
Until the current situation is addressed, returning particularly vulnerable Haitians compounds the country’s instability and places families at further risk. Young concluded, “Opening our country to Haitians as we have to the thousands of Afghans who we recently evacuated from Afghanistan to save their lives is who we are as a nation and sends a signal to the global community that the United States’ immigration system is once again humane and upholding its commitments.”
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990