Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Biden admin has no plans to change how it treats Haitian migrants despite outrage from advocates

By 37ci3 Mar28,2024


Three U.S. officials told NBC News that the Biden administration is under increasing pressure from human rights organizations to reconsider its treatment of Haitian migrants trying to flee Haiti or currently living in the U.S. without documents, but has no immediate plans to change course.

On Wednesday, more than 480 human rights organizations sent a letter to the Biden administration asking for a moratorium on deportations to Haiti, the immediate release of detained Haitian migrants, the closure of pending deportation cases for Haitian migrants and the reassignment of Temporary Protected Status. will allow more Haitian migrants already living in the United States to remain in the United States

“If the United States cannot keep its personnel in Haiti safe, then it will be difficult for the Haitian government to keep Haitian citizens safe,” the letter said, referring to the US mission to airlift Americans out of Haiti.

For more on this story, tune into “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” tonight at 6:30 PM ET/5:30 PM CT or check your local listings.

U.S. officials say there have been moral disagreements within the administration over the issue, both at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s heartening,” one US official said, adding that there were no plans to allow more Haitian migrants into the US.

“There are no good options here,” another US official said.

The Biden administration is facing backlash over its immigration policies, including some Democratic mayors, heading into November’s presidential election. Since the beginning of the administration, Customs and Border Protection has arrested more than 10 million undocumented migrants, many of whom are Haitians, trying to cross the southern border. Transfers reached a record monthly level at the end of 2023, although they have now declined.

since gangs took over Haiti forcing Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign this month, The people of the Caribbean are steeped in violence.

Burnt remains of cars
Charred remains of cars in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday.Clarence Siffroy / AFP – Getty Images

The Biden administration has not deported Haitian migrants by plane since the violence began because the airport in the capital and largest city, Port-au-Prince, was seized by gangs. But it continues to ship migrants interdicted at sea to Haiti.

On March 14 The US Coast Guard has returned 65 Haitians found on a sailboat at sea.

“Those interdicted at sea are subject to immediate repatriation in accordance with our long-standing policies and procedures,” a DHS spokesperson said. “US returns or repatriates migrants interdicted at sea to Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti.”

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said the Biden administration’s approach is to help Haitians pave the way to democracy.

“If our goal was to bring everyone from all over the world during a crisis, we would have a big problem,” said the MTN spokesman.

He noted that the United States has been working to help the situation for more than a year. The US government has provided more than $170 million in humanitarian aid since October 2022, making it the single largest provider of humanitarian aid to Haiti.

No protected status

Two U.S. officials told NBC News that the Biden administration will not change its policy of returning Haitians interdicted at sea because they do not want to cause mass migration.

Officials also said the current crisis has not yet prompted the United States to consider granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to an additional group of undocumented Haitians.

TPS has historically been used to allow citizens of a country facing a humanitarian crisis to legally live and work in the United States, whether the crisis at home is the result of political turmoil or a natural disaster. TPS is issued by the president.

Many Haitian migrants who have come to the United States in the past, including those who arrived after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, already have TPS.

Advocates for Haitian refugees argue that the administration set a double standard by granting TPS to new Venezuelans last summer when the situation in Venezuela was less dire than the current situation in Haiti.

People, including many Haitians, are leaving Mexico to cross into the United States
People, including many Haitians, leave Mexico to cross into the United States on March 13 in Tijuana, Mexico.Gregory Bull / AP file

The fear of using TPS now for Haitians, two officials say, is that it will send the wrong message to Haitians that they will be allowed to stay in the U.S. if they can do so here. But they admitted it was a pretty intense situation to bring anyone back.

“There’s an acknowledgment that it’s really difficult,” the US official said. “But we don’t want to encourage more people to go to sea.”

Guerline Joseph, a human rights activist and co-founder of the Haiti Bridge Alliance, who led the letter sent on Wednesday, said the Biden administration should reconsider its policy. He said taking in desperate migrants who are lucky enough to escape will not lead to mass migration because it is too difficult to get out.

“Getting out of Haiti is almost impossible,” Joseph said.

U.S. officials have noted that those recently embargoed are being sent to other parts of Haiti, such as the northern city of Cap-Haitien, rather than to Port-au-Prince, where most of the violence is concentrated.

“There is absolutely no excuse to send anyone anywhere in Haiti right now. They use it as an excuse to be unapologetic,” said Joseph. “Unstable all over the country”




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