Immigration: U.S. lawmakers call for halt to deportations to Haiti “in the context of a political and humanitarian crisis”

CTN News

U.S. lawmakers have sent a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, urging the Biden administration to suspend deportations of Haitians in an irregular situation in the United States.

In the letter, dated May 15, Massachusetts Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Cory Boocker of New Jersey, and Laphonza Butler of California, as well as the co-founders of the House Haitian Caucus, Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), urged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to suspend all deportations, repatriations, and expulsions to Haiti, in the context of a political and humanitarian crisis.

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security must suspend all deportations, repatriations and returns from the U.S. to Haiti in the context of the political and humanitarian crisis in this Caribbean country,” wrote the parliamentarians in their letter to Alejandro Mayorkas.

Haiti, a country in the throes of profound upheaval, continues to be plagued by armed gangs terrorizing its population, leading to the disruption of essential infrastructure and widespread fear among its citizens.

To justify their request, the signatories of this correspondence cite remarks by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, underlining that almost 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince, is under the control of armed groups who use tactics such as sexual assault and rape to spread terror.

Moreover, this violence has led to the blocking of trade and aid routes, as well as the closure of schools, exacerbating an already dire situation. The parliamentarians regret that, despite this tragic reality in Haiti, the United States has recently resumed deportation flights to Haiti.

In their letter to Secretary of State Mayorkas, they emphasized the precarious conditions in Haiti, asserting that returning individuals in such circumstances would expose them to significant risks. They argued that while it is recognized that people without legal status in the U.S. may eventually need to return to their country of origin, the current state of affairs in Haiti necessitates a halt to deportations in order to guarantee the safety of those whose lives are threatened.

“We recognize that people who cannot legally reside in the United States must eventually return to their home countries. But conditions in Haiti are currently so extreme that any deportation puts the returnee at risk of significant harm,” the US lawmakers wrote, adding that, “As a new Haitian government seeks to reassert its control over the country, the United States should not forcibly return people who fear for their safety.”

The letter, signed by a coalition of senators and congressmen, including Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02), underscores the bipartisan concern over the situation in Haiti.

This latest call to action follows previous efforts by Senator Markey and his colleagues to address the plight of Haitians, including calls to expedite the processing of immigrant visas for Haitians with family ties to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

These and other members of Congress had recently sent several other letters to the Biden administration requesting the extension of temporary protected status for Haitians in the United States. The last TPS granted to Haitians expires on June 4. After this date, TPS holders will be in an irregular situation and may be subject to deportation.

Barring a drastic change in migration policy, the Biden administration is expected to extend and/or re-designate temporary protected status for Haitian immigrants.

At a round-table discussion in Washington last month, Brian Nichols, Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, announced that the U.S. government is considering what decision to make regarding TPS. This decision will reflect the reality of the moment,” Nichols said.

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