On the Crisis in Haiti and Our Border – Open Doors for Refugees

On the Crisis in Haiti and Our Border

Open Doors for Refugees stands with Haitian migrants and supports their right to seek asylum in the United States.

In accordance with human rights laws and protocol, we expect our government to treat these Haitian asylum seekers with respect and dignity. Instead, thousands have been deported back to Haiti, where resources and humanitarian aid are severely lacking.

What Has Happened in Haiti

Earthquakes

On August 14, 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck. From this, roughly 650,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. [1]

USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Haiti is still reeling from the devastating 2010 earthquake that affected millions. Many have migrated to other countries like Chile south of our border. [2]

Political Unrest

On July 7, 2021, the President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated. [1] Political instability before and after this event has only exasperated attempts at helping the people there.

More recently, Haitians have had increased difficulty with living in Chile, influencing their decision to travel north to the US. [2] Racism, stricter immigration policies, and lack of jobs have all contributed to this.

Many of the people that make it to the US border are survivors of these traumatic events. And this movement is ongoing.

The US Government Response

After the 2010 earthquake, the US extended Temporary Protected Status to Haitians for up to one year after the disaster. [3]

The Biden administration last May extended Temporary Protected Status for the 150,000 Haitians already living in the country and a belief among many newly arriving Haitians was that this extended status would be applied more liberally after the earthquake in August. [2]

12,000+ Allowed In

Haitians granted Temporary Protected Status will be able to live in the US for the foreseeable future. They do not yet have citizenship, and will have to meet many additional criteria to be able to stay and to be granted Green Card (work permit) status.

5,000 more remain to be processed, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. [4]

13,000+ Pushed Out

At least 5,500 people have so far been flown back to Haiti under the US government’s Title 42 policy aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 in holding facilities. Mexico is following a similar policy and also flying Haitian refugees back.

Those who are flown back to Haiti are then given $100 in compensation by the US.

In addition, roughly 8,000 people have voluntarily returned to Mexico. Some intend to re-attempt a crossing in the future. [4]

The US special envoy to Haiti resigned in protest over the US government’s arbitrary and minimalist response, calling the mass-expulsions “inhumane.”

November 5th, 2021 Update: Immigrant advocacy organizations deliver a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to demand that they provide better legal support to detained Haitian migrants. [5]

November 9th, 2021 Update: The Biden administration has reinstated Haiti as a country who’s citizens will be eligible for temporary work visas.
Temporary work visas are a way for Haitians to earn a living working in a temporary job while in the United States and to benefit their family back home.
They had previously been banned from this program in 2018. [6]

How You Can Help

Donate to an Organization Working With Haitian Asylum Seekers

Open Doors for Refugees is not able to directly help with Haitian asylum seekers, but the following organizations do. They provide food, shelter, and resources to Haitians attempting to navigate the US asylum process.

Contact Someone in Power

You can write letters to your congressional representative, voicing opposition to the way our government has treated Haitian asylum seekers.

Find your representative here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Sources

  1. https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/2021-haiti-earthquake-situation-report-1-september-1-2021
  2. https://www.npr.org/2021/09/29/1041625399/why-haitian-migrants-have-been-making-the-trek-from-chile-to-the-u-s-border
  3. https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/RS21349.html
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/haitians-border-deportations/2021/10/01/bfa38852-222a-11ec-8fd4-57a5d9bf4b47_story.html
  5. https://www.aclu-nm.org/en/press-releases/groups-demand-ice-allow-detained-haitians-access-legal-services
  6. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article255671156.html