Letters to the Administration: Pause Deportation of Haitians and Respect Due Process

View or download a PDF of the letter here.

September 24, 2021

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the undersigned organizations, we write to urge you to immediately pause the removal of Haitians to Haiti and uphold basic due process and human rights for Haitians seeking asylum at the U.S. border. We also call upon your administration to investigate the treatment of migrants and conditions near the Del Rio, Texas port of entry.

In May, your administration acknowledged the dangers of Haitians returning to Haiti by the granting of Temporary Protective Status (TPS). Since that time, the political and economic conditions in Haiti have significantly deteriorated with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the earthquake in August that killed more than 2,200 people. Unfortunately, these horrific events follow a long history of discriminatory U.S. policies and laws against Haitian asylum seekers and migrants.

For example, in 1978, the then Immigration and Naturalization Service established a program to “expel Haitian asylum applicants as rapidly as possible,” removing over 4,000 Haitians. Once forcibly returned many to Haiti, many were imprisoned, persecuted, and killed. From 1981 to 1991, the United States interdicted approximately 25,000 Haitians at sea and returned many to danger in Haiti without screening them for asylum. Others were wrongfully held at Guantánamo Bay and interviewed without access to legal representation. In 1997, Congress enacted the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), to provide a pathway for Nicaraguans and Cubans to become legal permanent residents after they had been unjustly denied access to the US asylum process, but Congress intentionally excluded Haitian asylum seekers from this legislation due to concerns that including Haitians would defeat the bill.

In 2018, the Trump administration abruptly and without justification removed Haiti from the list of nations whose citizens may participate in the H-2A and H2B visa programs, excluding Haitians from entering the United States for temporary work. A year later, the Trump administration also discontinued the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRP), a program the Obama administration had implemented in 2014 to allow U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for parole for family members in Haiti.

Given the historic and systemic unjust treatment of Haitians, we urge you to break the cycle of discriminatory U.S. policies and laws, and we urge you to exercise prosecutorial discretion by ordering a temporary pause on the removal of Haitians who have arrived in the United States and to end the use of Title 42 expulsions which circumvent U.S. asylum protections. Humanitarian considerations warrant suspending removal flights to Haiti due to the ongoing political and economic turmoil and natural disasters there. If you have any questions, please contact Rob Randhava, senior counsel, at randhava@civilrights.org.