Biden administration faces ‘critical moment’ for migration | News from the US-Mexico border

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Washington DC – Deportation to Haiti, retirement in Mexico or detention in the United States – these were the options faced by more than 14,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, who camped under a bridge in the US state of Texas last week , in the hope of obtaining asylum.

But as thousands have been deported from the United States and those who remain suffer the same fate, rights groups say Haitian asylum seekers, many of whom are families with children, will continue to come. seek protection.

“This is not a deterrent or even a band-aid solution,” said Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, an organization that helps Haitian migrants, of the states’ expulsion policy. -United.

Jozef said Haitians face a worsening political and economic crisis in their home country and those who have been deported are likely to try to return to the US-Mexico border, or to another country in the process of being deported. road in the coming weeks.

“They are destroying people’s lives, knowing the same people will come back if they survive the trip,” Jozef told Al Jazeera.

Immigration advocates say denying Haitian migrants asylum and deporting them to Haiti may violate international law [Mexico’s National Migration Institute/Handout via Reuters]

Evictions from “Title 42”

The United States has so far deported more than 6,000 migrants to Haiti, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Recount CBS News, while an unknown number of others remain in CBP custody, although most are deported.

CBP did not respond to a request for comment from Al Jazeera in time for publication.

Reuters news agency also reported this week another 8,000 people, fearing deportation, returned to Mexico, where their fate is unclear.

The asylum seekers crossed the Rio Grande River from Mexico to Texas, where they were greeted on horseback by US border patrol officers, some of whom used what appeared to be reins to push them back to Mexico.

Immigration advocates, as well as progressive Democratic leaders, have lambasted the administration of US President Joe Biden for the treatment of Haitian migrants, saying denying them asylum is a violation of international law.

The Biden administration has relied on a Trump-era policy called “Title 42” to immediately return most migrants who arrive at the country’s borders, citing the coronavirus pandemic as justification.

Rights groups say they expect more from Biden, who campaigned on promising more welcoming and humane immigration policies than his predecessor Donald Trump. The US special envoy to Haiti has resigned to protest the deportations.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Mexico on September 19 [Felix Marquez/AP Photo]

“There are still Haitian migrants crossing Mexico all the way to the border right now, it’s not going to stop,” said Breanne Palmer, acting director of policy and advocacy at UndocuBlack Network, an organization that defends undocumented black migrants in the United States.

“This is a critical moment for the Ministry of Homeland Security [DHS] and President Biden to decide what kind of immigration legacy he’s going to lead, ”Palmer told Al Jazeera.

A U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday that the Biden administration – which exempted children traveling alone from Title 42 deportations – may continue to deport migrant families under the policy as a lawsuit challenging the measure is in progress.

“We are disappointed that Title 42 remains in place while the appeal progresses, but we will continue to fight in court and push the Biden administration to repeal the policy,” said Lee Gelernt, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that brought the case.

“The administration has said it wants to act with humanity, now is the time to step up,” Gelernt told Al Jazeera.

Haitian migrants crossed the Rio Grande River to the United States last month in search of asylum [File: Eric Gay/AP Photo]

Simultaneous crises

The deportations to Haiti come at a time when the country suffers from multiple crises. In July, President Jovenel Moise was assassinated and a month later a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the south.

During his address to the United Nations General Assembly last week, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said that inequality, poverty and conflict will remain the main drivers of migration.

“Human beings, fathers and mothers who have children, will always flee poverty and conflict,” he said. “Migration will continue as long as the planet has both rich areas, when most of the world’s population live in poverty, if not extreme poverty, with no prospect of a better life.”

But many Haitian asylum seekers who arrived at the US-Mexico border last month had left Haiti years ago after a severe earthquake devastated much of the island in 2010. Many have moved to Chile or Brazil in search of employment, while others live in Mexico for years awaiting the possibility of claiming asylum in the United States.

Fifty-seven deportation flights have left the United States since September 19 to the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and the northern coastal city of Cap Haitien, where Nicole Phillips, legal director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance said the airport did not have buses to transport deportees to the city.

“We call for an immediate end to the deportations and expulsions because Haiti cannot receive them,” Phillips told Al Jazeera. “Logistically, Haiti does not have the infrastructure to receive this amount of massive deportations.

Mexico recently deported 70 Haitians, including 13 children, on a flight to Port-au-Prince [Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters]

Bahamian and Cuban authorities on Friday said they had arrested hundreds of Haitians who were on boats trying to reach the United States by sea. Officials from both countries said they would return them to Haiti.

Meanwhile, several hundred Haitians who returned to Mexico remained in shelters in the northern city of Ciudad Acuna, Phillips said. She added that many more were flown or bused to the southern town of Tapachula, on the border with Guatemala, where immigration groups say they risk detention if they leave.

Earlier this week, Mexico turned an Olympic stadium in Tapachula into an asylum processing center. But the country’s Refugee Assistance Commission (COMAR) has been inundated with asylum claims and the process is fraught with delays.

Mexico expelled 70 Haitians, including 13 children, on a flight to Port-au-Prince on Wednesday in what it called “assisted voluntary return”. Further flights are expected in the coming weeks.

“We don’t want Mexico to become a migrant camp, we want the underlying problem to be solved, for people not to be forced to emigrate,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last week.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry met with an American delegation on Friday [Joseph Odelyn/AP Photo]

‘Flames’

Back in the United States, Biden said the border patrol officers who charged the migrants would “pay” for what they did, while DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said a quick investigation would be soon over.

Pro-immigration groups welcomed the condemnations, but said the footage was a vivid example of anti-black and anti-immigrant sentiment that remains prevalent among border control agencies.

“No matter where black people go, there are feelings that denigrate our humanity and our ability and right to seek asylum and seek refuge,” Palmer said.

“Many black migrants face a multi-faceted experience that often involves violence, discrimination and closed doors,” she told Al Jazeera. “We are in a unique position in that we are very visible but we are also made invisible.”

Meanwhile, Jozef said his organization had not been able to access Haitian migrants still held by CBP, nor had it been able to provide them with legal or language assistance.

On Thursday, an appeals court ruled that the Biden administration could continue to deport migrant families under Title 42 [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

Jozef pointed out that as conditions in Haiti continue to deteriorate, more people will flee in search of protection, security and jobs, most to neighboring countries in Latin America – and the United States. how the United States treats Haitian migrants is a critical example.

“As the world watches how the United States treats little black girls and black boys and their parents who seek safety and protection – not only are they destroying lives by deporting them and sending them to Haiti – they also facilitate and give carte blanche to all other countries where Haitians ask for help, ”said Jozef.

“They are literally creating a system where Haitians cannot be allowed into any space. “


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