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IRC: Biden Administration must stop expulsions of Haitians and end immigration authorities' use of violence on asylum-seekers

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New York, NY, September 22, 2021 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to a statement by the Biden Administration that DHS will expel Haitian asylum-seekers from Del Rio, Texas to Haiti and other countries despite the devastation and ongoing humanitarian crisis that continues to destabilize the Caribbean nation. As expulsions continue, US Border Patrol have been shockingly documented pursuing Haitian asylum-seekers on horseback armed with whips.

The Biden Administration continues to use the Title 42 public health rule to expel asylum seekers despite commitments to review its use. A federal court had blocked the Biden Administration's use of Title 42 last week, but the Administration appealed the ruling on Friday asking for a stay of that ruling that would enable expulsions to continue.

Olga Byrne, Director of U.S. Immigration at the IRC, said:

"It is stunning to see the Biden Administration racing against the clock to send at least 12,000 asylum-seekers back to Haiti and other countries before a federal court blocking the use of Title 42 goes into effect. In its recent statement, DHS failed to mention once its obligation to ensure access to asylum and instead focused entirely on removing these vulnerable individuals and families from the US. This plan will see to it that thousands of people will be expelled to Haiti even as it undergoes political strife following the assassination of its President, a public health crisis with little to no infrastructure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and near-constant onslaught of natural disasters with an earthquake and a tropical storm occurring only a little over a month ago.

"It is worth remembering that the US Government provided a Temporary Protected Status designation for Haiti following a smaller earthquake in 2010 and following the recent higher-magnitude earthquake, the United States provided aid to the country. The Biden Administration ostensibly recognizes the deteriorating and dangerous conditions, and sends at-risk individuals with no regard to the consequences.

"This mass deportation effort is happening despite commitments made by President Biden to prioritize the protection of vulnerable populations first as a matter of value and policy. The IRC calls on the Biden Administration and DHS to immediately halt expulsions to Haiti, end the use of Title 42, and establish a protection-forward and dignity-centric asylum system."

The IRC provides case management, humanitarian reception, and legal assistance to over 10,000 asylum seekers, unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people seeking protection in the US each year, including thousands of Haitian nationals. The IRC knows based on our experience in the Latin America region, decades of expertise welcoming newcomers in the United States, and our own lessons from Europe that a robust government response, partnerships with community based resources and NGOs, collaboration among the countries along the migration corridors to guarantee people's integrity and safety regardless of their nationality, and rapid scale-up of funds is necessary to create a safe and orderly system.

Seeking asylum is legal, even during a pandemic. Domestic and international laws and treaty obligations recognize that while the US is taking precautionary measures such as testing and quarantine, health issues are not grounds to deny safety to people seeking asylum. Title 42 violates U.S. refugee, asylum & anti-trafficking laws, and international treaty obligations by expelling children, families, and adults seeking asylum from persecution, torture, and other serious danger. The IRC calls on the Biden Administration to stop the use of Title 42 to expel people seeking safety from harm's way.