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The Horrific Plight of Haitians Seeking U.S. Asylum

The United States is the top global destination for Haitian migrants. Haiti’s political instability, poverty and a series of natural disasters have prompted tens of thousands of migrants to make the harrowing journey to the U.S.-Mexico border. But, unfortunately, many have endured abuse by the very people they hoped would help them begin a new life.

The situation has generated domestic criticism from all sides toward the Biden administration’s poor handling of Haitians seeking asylum in the U.S. and consider the treatment a humanitarian crisis.

The Startling And Difficult Facts

Federal agents at the US-Mexico border have long been accused of mistreating asylum seekers and practicing unlawful activities including misspending federal aid intended for migrants, invasive body searches of women, and ignoring COVID-19 distancing and other protocols. Most recently, images of Border Patrol agents prompted accusations of whipping Haitian migrants with horse reins. Now, a new report from Human Rights Watch details dozens of instances of alleged abuse and misconduct at the hands of federal officers and U.S. border agents.

The 26-page report documents more than 160 incidents where migrants experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as due process violations, harsh detention conditions, denial of medical care and discriminatory treatment at or near the border. One woman claimed a Border Patrol officer repeatedly slammed her to the ground. A man claimed he was denied medical treatment for a month after a Border Patrol dog bit him. Others said they were forced to sign documents without a translator, or officers tore up their official documents. Most felt the agents treated them like they were “worthless.” And the report further said these claims show that DHS has “normalized shocking abuses” at the U.S. border. 

 Not Much Has Changed Since The Trump Administration

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration began using Title 42, an emergency public health order allowing for the immediate expulsion of migrants. Since then, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has expelled most migrants detained at the border without considering their asylum claims, as usually required by U.S. law. The Biden administration has continued to uphold Title 42 and maintains restrictions on where and how migrants can apply for asylum, precipitating a renewed debate over President Biden’s immigration policy.

Who’s Taking A Stand?

Immigrant advocates are appalled at the conditions at the border and called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Justice Department to investigate the allegations, especially given the fact that the Biden administration had promised to deliver a new approach to immigration. Instead, we continue to see Trump-era immigration tactics and COVID-19 as an excuse for deportations and inhumane treatment amid a record influx of Haitian migrants at the border. 

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) denounced the decision of DHS to rapidly expel hundreds of Haitians using policies that deny asylum seekers the opportunity to seek protection. Last month, they sent clear messages to the Biden administration.

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, noted, “U.S. asylum and humanitarian law absolutely forbids the Biden administration from the massive and rapid expulsion of Haitian asylum seekers including families with children that strips them of any meaningful chance to claim protection. Now eight months in office, President Biden can no longer blame his predecessor for keeping in place policies that violate asylum law and force people back to a country that is in no way prepared to offer them protection. Some congressional members have expressed deep concern, but the Biden administration needs to recognize it is violating U.S. law and immediately stop deportation flights.”

The Law Office of Michele Alcalde Can Help Haitians And Their Families

In the face of disaster and chaos in Haiti, its citizens simply looking for a better life will most likely be denied asylum in the U.S. Many are not even being given the chance to make their case. Haitians say their experience at the U.S./Mexican border is a painful reminder of what they are trying to escape — to then only to be deported back home.

The plight of Haitians and the stories and experiences being told is cruel and callous. The Law Office of Michele Alcalde welcomes the Haitian people with open arms and has the experience to handle asylum cases. We make sure that the language barrier does not deter our progress by having someone who can assist with interpretation needs when necessary. We have represented quite a few Haitian foreign nationals in the past and will continue to provide the best representation possible. As a member of AILA, Michele is receiving guidance and is dedicated to helping the Haitian people find a path to a safe and secure life. For more updates on the law, find us on Instagram or Facebook.  If you need assistance with your asylum case call us at 732.766.1407.

Posted in: Immigration