September 26, 2023
For Immediate Release
Contact: [email protected]
MIAMI, FL — Today, 74 immigrants’ and human rights organizations across the country sent a letter to the Biden administration decrying the government’s refusal to implement the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) non-return advisory for Haiti. To uplift the letter’s demands, Florida and National organizations held a press conference calling on the Biden administration to immediately suspend all scheduled and future deportation flights to Haiti until conditions of violence and insecurity in Haiti no longer represent a credible risk of serious harm to anyone forcibly returned.
Since November 2022, when UNHCR called on all governments to “suspend the forced return of Haitians to their country,” the U.S. has sent nine deportation flights to Haiti, despite the serious risks to life, liberty, and physical and mental safety of the people being deported. Advocates have reason to believe the Biden administration intends to send another deportation flight to Haiti before the end of the month.
Representative Dotie Joseph, Florida House of Representatives, District 108, said:
“What I want to do right now is talk about Deferred Enforcement Departure, which is a temporary administrative tool that the president has at his disposal which defers removal or deportation for designated foreign nationals residing in the United States. Using this mechanism, President Biden can provide tangible, humane relief for Haitians in this pivotal moment.”
Tessa Petit, Executive Director at Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) said:
“The US State Department has put out multiple travel advisories to and for U.S. citizens of the risks it takes to currently travel to Haiti. If the State Department and the U.S government understand how dangerous life is in Haiti for U.S. citizens, why is it that there is a complete disregard of these recommendations for U.S. citizens and the United States continues to deport Haitians to Haiti? Haitian lives are just as important.”
Vanessa Joseph, Supervising Attorney at Catholic Legal Services, Inc. said:
“It is the responsibility of the Biden Administration to ensure that deportations do not lead to serious harm for those who are returned to Haiti. And so, we call upon the Administration to prioritize the safety and the rights of these individuals. We cannot forget the importance of upholding humanitarian values. The United States has a historical commitment to providing refuge for those in need and Haitian people should be no different.”
Paul Christian Namphy, Political Director at Family Action Network Movement (FANM) said:
“The UN Human Rights Office reports that between January 1st and August 15th 2,439 Haitians have been killed, close to 1,000 kidnappings; a humanitarian crisis forcing 200,000 people to leave their homes nationwide. Over 5 million people are needing humanitarian assistance, many suffering from hunger. These are not the conditions that people should be returned to.”
Gepsie Metellus, Executive Director at Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center said:
“In all good conscience, deportations to Haiti must be halted. Again we know the story, we know the reasons behind our demand; the reasons are that gangs have essentially taken over life in Haiti, and with this brutal presence of gangs on a daily basis, we’re hearing about rapes, we’re hearing about kidnappings, we’re hearing about people being maimed, people being displaced – people’s lives grinding to a halt out of fear, out of being threatened, out of being menaced.”
Guerline Jozef, Executive Director at The Haitian Bridge Alliance said:
“The flight that was returned to Haiti last month included extremely sick, vulnerable women. One of whom was sick for three days, as she was held in detention centers in Miami. Two days prior to her deportation she was taken to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Upon return to the detention center, she was packed with the very same clothes, the very same dress from the hospital onto the plane, chained and deported. Since her arrival in Haiti, we have been unable to connect with her.”
Shalyn Fluharty, Executive Director at Americans for Immigrant Justice said:
“It is unsafe and inhumane to return individuals to Haiti and the government’s decision to continue doing so conflicts directly with current US domestic and foreign policy.”
Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) is an award-winning non-profit law firm that fights for justice for immigrants through a combination of direct representation, impact litigation, advocacy and outreach. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), also known as “the Bridge”, is a grassroots community organization that advocates for fair and humane immigration policies and provides migrants and immigrants with humanitarian, legal, and social services, with a particular focus on Black migrants, the Haitian community, women and girls, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and survivors of torture and other human rights abuses.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition is a statewide alliance of over 60 member organizations, including farmworkers, students, service providers, grassroots organizations and legal advocates, who come together for the fair treatment of immigrants and all.
FANM’s mission is to empower low to moderate income families socially, financially, and politically and to give them the tools to transform their communities. FANM’s vision is to be a leader in creating a sustainable village where thriving families can raise well-rounded children in peace and harmony.
Catholic Legal Services provides professional legal services to those who come from foreign lands who lack sufficient means to obtain representation without regard to faith or national origin.
Sant La‘s mission is to empower, strengthen and uplift South Florida’s Haitian community by providing free access to information and existing services to ensure its successful integration.