U.S. Should Prioritize Protection, Not Deterrence for Haitian and Cuban Asylum Seekers

July 14, 2021

Washington, DC—The Biden Administration’s position that Haitians and Cubans who may have to flee mounting political instability in their home countries should not seek safety in the United States runs counter to the U.S. legal commitment to protect vulnerable refugees, including unaccompanied children and families. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) notes that this ineffective effort to deter migration fails to acknowledge the fear and desperation that drives such migration. In response, KIND President Wendy Young issued the following statement:

KIND clients from around the world risk their lives to come to the United States knowing full well the dangers of the journey and the uncertainty they face if and when they reach our border. No rhetoric from Washington will deter them from seeking safety because they have no alternative course of action. If they remain at home, they face grave harm and, in some instances, death. Pronouncements telling migrants not to come will not deter them but could place these children and families in greater danger as they will be forced to take riskier routes to avoid detection. The United States has a responsibility to live up to its legal commitments and obligations to protect those seeking asylum. It should ensure that legal pathways to protection in the United States are accessible to those in danger, including children. The United States should not deny people the right to seek asylum at our borders.

Under international and U.S. law, asylum seekers are lawfully allowed to seek asylum no matter how they enter the country. The U.S. has a long history, however, of interdicting and turning back Cuban and Haitian migrants attempting to reach the U.S. by boat, while leaving unaccompanied children from those countries inadequately protected.  Let us learn from that past injustice by seizing on the present opportunity to chart a humane path that embraces Cuban and Haitian asylum seekers.

KIND urges the Biden Administration to accept asylum seekers from wherever they come and work with the international community to enhance protection for the most vulnerable in their home countries so they do not need to flee to be safe.  The past need not be prologue.


Media Contact: Megan McKenna, mmckenna@supportkind.org, 202-631-9990