ORLANDO, FL – Today, U.S. Rep. Val Demings (FL-10), Co-Chair of the House Haiti Caucus, joined 55 of her colleagues to call on the Biden Administration to immediately halt deportations to Haiti and take urgent action to address the concerns of the Haitian Diaspora after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti last month. The lawmakers’ letter follows the Administration’s resumption of deportation flights to Haiti and as thousands of Haitian migrants continue to await an opportunity to make an asylum claim at the border.
Over two thousand Haitians were killed and twelve thousand more have been seriously injured as a result of the earthquake on August 14, 2021, and many cities have been reduced to rubble. This earthquake struck areas of Haiti that were already experiencing extreme vulnerability, with some 4.1 million Haitians—more than a third of the total population—living with food insecurity, and 2.1 percent of children suffering severe malnutrition. All of the conditions leading to the Biden Administration’s original Temporary Protected Status (TPS) redesignation on May 22, 2021, the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7 and now the August 14 earthquake and subsequent tropical storm make safe return to Haiti completely impossible.
In response to these ongoing events, the lawmakers urged the Administration to:
- Indefinitely halt deportations to Haiti, release detained Haitians and support administrative closure of removal cases. The lawmakers urged the Biden Administration to prioritize humanitarian relief over increased enforcement, and instruct the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately suspend deportations and expulsions indefinitely for noncitizens who pose no threats to public safety or national security;
- Update the TPS “continuous presence” eligibility cut-off date and provide DED protections. The lawmakers called on the Administration to again update the eligibility cutoff date to August 14 or later, and urged it to issue a Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) designation for Haitians in the U.S.;
- Provide humanitarian parole for Haitians arriving at the United States/Mexico Border.Citing DHS’ discretionary authority to parole Haitians into the U.S. on a case-by-case basis, the lawmakers urged the Administration to encourage and empower agents and officers to grant humanitarian parole;
- Reinstate the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. This would allow certain eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for parole for their family members in Haiti who have approved immigrant visa petitions but cannot reunite with family members due to the years-long backlog in visa processing; and
- End the barriers to Haitian vaccine distribution.The lawmakers urged the administration to use all resources available to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Haiti, including leveraging state agencies and the Haitian Diaspora to scale up their current COVID-19 distribution plan in Haiti.
In May, on Haitian Flag Day, Reps. Pressley, Levin, Clarke and Demings announced the formation of the House Haiti Caucus, a Congressional caucus dedicated to pursuing a just foreign policy that puts the needs and aspirations of the Haitian people first.