Biden Administration’s Dangerous Haitian Expulsion Strategy Escalates the U.S. History of Illegal and Discriminatory Mistreatment of Haitians Seeking Safety in the United States
On September 18, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a “comprehensive strategy” to expel thousands of Haitian and other asylum-seeking families and adults who had crossed into the United States near a bridge in Del Rio, Texas – blocking many from access to the U.S. asylum system and fear screenings despite the requirements of U.S. law. Highly disturbing images and accounts from Del Rio reveal U.S. immigration officers, including mounted U.S. Border Patrol agents armed with cords used like whips, violently pushing Haitian adults and children back across the river into Mexico – many of whom were simply trying to return with food and water for their families. Already DHS has expelled hundreds of individuals by plane to Haiti, some in shackles and many without being told where they are being taken, while the country is amid twin humanitarian and political crises following a major earthquake in August 2021 and the assassination of the president in July 2021. The head of Haiti’s national migration office has asked the Biden administration for a “humanitarian moratorium” on the forced returns, citing “ongoing security issues” and warning that “the Haitian state is not really able to receive these deportees.”
These latest expulsions follow the expulsion of 1,400 Haitian migrants and asylum seekers to danger in Haiti carried out by the Biden administration in February 2021. BuzzFeed News reported in March 2021 that DHS officials internally acknowledged that deported Haitian immigrants “may face harm” upon return due to violent crime and political instability in Haiti. A March 2021 report by Haitian Bridge Alliance, UndocuBlack Network, and the Quixote Center noted that all of the individuals expelled to Haiti who were interviewed for the report were either in hiding or had fled the country again. In designating Haitians in the United States for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) just in August 2021, DHS noted that “Haiti is grappling with a deteriorating political crisis, violence, and a staggering increase in human rights abuses.” Yet in mid-September 2021, DHS resumed expulsion flights to Haiti. Dozens of members of Congress wrote to the Biden administration to call for a halt to all deportations to Haiti. The U.N. Refugee Agency has expressed “serious concern” with expulsions to Haiti without “individual assessments.”
The Biden administration’s horrific and illegal actions to block Haitians from seeking protection in the United States and expel them to danger without access to the U.S. asylum system are the latest in a decades-long history of anti-Black immigration policies that have often targeted Haitian migrants for illegal and discriminatory turnbacks, expulsions, detention, and other mistreatment, as this factsheet explains.