FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Haitian asylum seekers continue to suffer under the U.S. government’s Haitian Deterrence Policy, plaintiffs in Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden allege in a supplemental complaint filed last week. The complaint details the ongoing harms plaintiffs experience nearly two years since they were abused in the CBP encampment in Del Rio, Texas, as well as how the Biden Administration has used new policy mechanisms in a continued effort to deter Haitians from seeking protection in the United States.
As the Title 42 policy was set to expire on May 11, 2023, the Biden Administration published its final asylum ban rule that renders asylum seekers traveling through third countries—as most are forced to do—ineligible for asylum, and requires the use of the unreliable CBP One smartphone app to schedule an appointment to request asylum at a port of entry. Now, the Biden Administration is expanding this asylum ban to apply to migrants who arrive by sea—a means of seeking safety in the U.S. that is primarily used by Haitians and Cubans.
“The world witnessed in horror as Mirard Joseph was abused by a CBP officer on horseback in September 2021 in Del Rio. Over 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, were forced to live outside in sweltering heat without shelter, water, food, or medical care, including pregnant women and babies, just to seek asylum,” said Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA). “Almost two years later, there has been no accountability from the Biden Administration for this abusive and inhumane treatment, and the federal government continues to discriminate against Haitian asylum seekers and deter them from coming to U.S. soil. Our individual plaintiffs in HBA v. Biden who were expelled back to Haiti have been in even more danger than before they fled, not just because of increased instability and danger in Haiti, but also because Haitians expelled from the U.S. are particularly vulnerable to kidnappings and other violence once returned.
“If the U.S. government had honored the constitutional and statutory rights of our Haitian brothers and sisters who sought safety in Del Rio in 2021, they would not still be risking their lives to travel back to the border in desperate attempts to survive and other Haitians trapped in life-threatening conditions would seek protection as they’re entitled to do. Lives would be saved. This is anti-Haitian and anti-Black racism. We will not stop until our clients and our community get justice,” concluded Jozef.
Haitian Bridge Alliance et al v. Biden was originally filed on behalf of HBA and 11 individual plaintiffs to hold the government to account for detaining and expelling thousands of Haitians seeking safety in Del Rio, Texas, in September 2021.
Co-counsel in Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden are Haitian Bridge Alliance, Innovation Law Lab, Justice Action Center, and Covington & Burling LLP.