Detaining Haitian Asylum Seekers at Guantánamo Should Be Unrepeatable History

Proposed Plan Harks Back to Racist Practices of the 20th Century


Despite the Guantánamo Bay’s history of human rights violations, the Biden Administration is considering detaining Haitian asylum seekers at the U.S. naval base in Cuba amid the increasingly deadly instability in Haiti that has forced thousands to flee. The following is a statement by Tasha Moro, Communications Director at Justice Action Center:

“It is unconscionable that the Biden Administration would even consider reusing Guantánamo Bay to detain Haitian asylum seekers for several reasons, all of which reflect the United States’ deeply rooted anti-Black, and specifically anti-Haitian, racism.

“We have already seen how this Administration treats Haitian migrants. Just last year, the world watched in horror as 15,000 Haitian asylum seekers were held at a makeshift encampment in Del Rio, Texas, where they faced anti-Black abuse at the hands of CBP. These Haitians were denied their legal right to seek asylum, and the clearing of the encampment catalyzed a nearly year-long mass expulsion campaign that sent 25,000 Haitians back to danger. Despite the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the case, litigation in Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden seeking justice for the horrific treatment of Haitians in Del Rio continues.

“Sadly, anti-Blackness in immigration policy is a bi-partisan practice. Just this week, red state attorneys general representing plaintiff states in Arizona v. CDC filed a motion claiming that the recent decline in Haitian expulsions due to humanitarian exemptions signals a ‘de facto termination [of] the Title 42 Policy vis-à-vis citizens of Haiti.’ For these extremist litigators to specifically target Haitian asylum seekers—while leaving humanitarian programs benefiting other populations like Uniting for Ukraine unchallenged—is a racist double standard. All people fleeing violence have the right to seek safety.

“In the early 1990s, Presidents H.W. Bush and Clinton revived a 1970s practice of incarcerating Haitians migrants at Guantánamo Bay, where they were subjected to deplorable conditions, denied urgent medical care, and prohibited access to legal counsel. They were all required to undergo HIV testing, and Haitian women who tested positive were forcibly sterilized, harking back to the era of sterilization laws that used eugenics to target Black Americans. A federal judge ordered the release of Haitians detained at Guantánamo in 1993.

“The path forward is clear: We must not repeat this shameful history. The Biden Administration must follow calls by Haitian immigrant leaders and afford all Haitians their legal and human right to seek asylum, free from punishment or abuse.”


Tasha Moro
Justice Action Center

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