Following Administration Decision to Halt Deportations to Ukraine, Lawmakers Demand Same Protections for Haitian Migrants
“We write with a request as simple as it is urgent: Stop deporting and expelling people to Haiti. Now.”
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congressman Mondaire Jones (NY-17) called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky to fully end Title 42, cease deportations of people to Haiti and affirm their legal and fundamental human right to seek asylum.
Their letter follows the Biden Administration’s recent suspension of deportation flights to Ukraine in recognition of the humanitarian crisis there and as the Administration hits a grim milestone of expelling over 20,000 Haitians– two-thirds of whom were forcibly removed under the Title 42 policy – despite the danger, instability and political violence on the island.
“We write with a request as simple as it is urgent: Stop deporting and expelling people to Haiti. Now,” Reps. Pressley and Jones wrote. “Today, we reiterate our insistence that you impose a moratorium on deportations to Haiti, respect Haitians’ legal and human right to asylum by ending Title 42 expulsions, and reverse the unjust deportations to Haiti that have already occurred.”
The lawmakers called out the contradicting decision to redesignate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status while continuing to expel Haitian migrants under Title 42, pointing to leading public health experts who have condemned as “scientifically baseless and politically motivated.” They also urged the agencies to use their authority to suspend deportations to Haiti, as they did in their recent response to the refugee crisis in Ukraine.
“On March 3, Immigration and Customs Enforcement suspended deportation flights to Ukraine in response to the “ongoing humanitarian crisis” there — a lifesaving decision and justified and important exercise of your enforcement discretion,” the representatives continued. “There is every reason to extend the same level of compassion and exercise that same discretion to suspend deportations to Haiti — and, in light of your own findings about the ongoing humanitarian crisis there, there is simply no excuse not to.”
As a founding co-chair of the House Haiti Caucus, Rep. Pressley has been an outspoken critic of the Title 42 policy, which has been weaponized to deny migrants—including Haitian and other Black migrants—their legal right to claim asylum in the United States.
In February, Reps. Pressley, Judy Chu (CA-27), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07) led 33 other House Democrats on a letter to CDC Director Walensky demanding answers about the agency’s justification for treating asylum seekers as a unique public health threat, how these expulsions are being coordinated, how asylum seekers being returned to dangerous situations are being cared for, and more. Days later, Rep. Pressley once again called on the Biden Administration to reverse the Title 42 Order and other anti-Black immigration policies.
Rep. Pressley has consistently called on the Department of Homeland Security to end the practice of expelling migrants under Title 42 and to employ alternative forms of humanitarian relief for detainees subject to deportation for the remainder of the pandemic.
In September, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Velázquez led 54 of their colleagues on a letter calling on the Biden Administration to immediately halt deportations to Haiti and provide humanitarian parole protections for those seeking asylum. The lawmakers’ letter followed the Administration’s resumption of deportation flights to Haiti as thousands of Haitian migrants continue to await an opportunity to make an asylum claim at the border.
Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues on the House Oversight Committee in demanding answers regarding the inhumane treatment of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, by Border Patrol agents on horseback and pushing to Biden Administration to end the ongoing use and weaponization of Title 42.
Massachusetts is home to the third largest Haitian diaspora community in the country, with approximately 46,000 Haitians and Haitian-Americans living across the state and over half in the Boston metropolitan area. Additionally, Massachusetts is home to more than 4,700 Haitians with Temporary Protected Status.
As the representative for one of the largest Haitian-American communities in the country, Jones has been a strong advocate for all Haitian-Americans. Only a few weeks after being sworn into office, Jones and his team were instrumental in preventing Rockland County resident Paul Pierrilius from being illegally deported to Haiti, a country where he had never been. Despite these efforts, ICE deported Paul only a couple weeks later.
Since then, Jones has repeatedly called on the Biden Administration to halt deportations to Haiti and return individuals unjustly deported there.
In April 2021, he joined colleagues in calling for a special representative to Haiti to reform and refocus US policy there, as well as a freeze to Title 42 deportations.
In July 2021, he led more than 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus in calling on the Biden Administration to return individuals unjustly deported from the United States.
He also joined members of the House Haiti and Caribbean Caucuses in calling on the Administration to reinstate the Haitian Family Reunification Program and extend the TPS designation deadline for Haitian nationals.
In September 2021, he joined more than 50 colleagues in once again calling on the Administration to halt all deportations to Haiti.