FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C.– On the first anniversary of their attempt to seek safety in Del Rio, Texas, Haitian asylum seekers who endured abuse and inhumane conditions at the hands of the federal government are speaking out and demanding accountability.
In the year since viral photos of abuse at the U.S-Mexico border sparked international outrage, the Biden administration has avoided taking accountability for its failures. In December 2021, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Innovation Law Lab and Justice Action Center filed Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden on behalf of HBA and 11 individual Haitian plaintiffs representing the thousands abused in the Del Rio encampment.
Below are reflections from plaintiffs on the sham DHS investigation and what like life been like since they sought asylum last year:
“It’s been one year since I was deported to Haiti. For the time being, I’m in Haiti because whatever means we had, we spent it, and we lost our identification papers, they threw away all our possessions and we lost a lot of things. The American government harmed us a great deal, treated us badly when we were in prison. I feel a lot of regret and fear, when I look at the situation I managed to flee only to be returned to it…” —Jacques*
“The people on horses came at me, a young woman. They had no pity for anyone. They came and told us, “Return to Mexico.” They did not want to hear what we had to say. When we tried to reason with them, they did not cooperate. What they set out to do that day, they would do no matter what.” —Esther*
“If the US government chooses to cover it up and not provide justice to those who suffered under that bridge, in the dust, with kids who were sick – honestly, I don’t really know what else to say. I am very disappointed.” —Paul*
“I’d like for the justice system in the United States to take responsibility so this doesn’t happen again, for people who immigrate from a country because life was unlivable there, who were looking for a better life, to be treated like that. I don’t ever want this to happen again. That’s why we need a legal process, so that this kind of treatment – mistreating people, beating them, pressing them to the ground, handcuffing you to the point that it cuts into your wrists and you bleed. We aren’t thieves. We were just looking for a place to give us refuge, because things aren’t good in our country. And that’s how they treated us. I think this is something that is going to be with us until we die.” —Wilson*
We urge the U.S. government to bring back all Haitian asylum seekers who were denied their right to seek safety so that they can justly pursue their asylum claims. To truly address anti-Blackness in the asylum process, there must be equity in processing at the border, language access for Black/African and Indigenous migrants, more culturally specific and accessible resources for humanitarian assistance for Black migrants, and an end to Title 42 and other deterrence policies that disproportionately harm Black migrants.
*pseudonyms used to protect plaintiffs’ identities.
For more information on the Haitian Bridge Alliance week of action, visit: https://bit.ly/1YearAfterDelRio
For more information about the federal class action lawsuit Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden, visit https://justiceactioncenter.org/federal-class-action-lawsuit-alleges-racist-and-abusive-treatment-of-haitian-migrants-in-del-rio-texas/