Biden admin grants protected status for Haitians

US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced May 23 an 18-month designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This humanitarian protection allows an estimated 100,000 individuals to apply to remain lawfully in the US. There are three statutory grounds for TPS designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Haiti faces political crisis and human rights abuses, security concerns, and the exacerbation of a "dire economic situation and lack of access to food, water, and healthcare" due to COVID-19, Mayorkas found.

In January, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights warned of possible violent uprisings and government crackdowns amid the deepening political unrest in Haiti. In February, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the threat to judicial independence in Haiti after the arbitrary arrests of a supreme court justice and 22 other individuals.

Mayorkas cited these conditions in designating Haiti for TPS. Haitian nationals, and individuals without nationality who last resided in Haiti, who were residing in the US as of May 21 are able to file initial applications for TPS, provided they meet eligibility requirements. The individuals must file with US Citizenship & Immigration Services within the registration period beginning with publication of the decision in the Federal Register.

From Jurist, May 24. Used with permission.

Note: TPS was first granted for Haitians by the Obama administration in January 2010, and extended several times beginning in May 2011. It was revoked by the Trump administration in November 2017, although the revocation never took effect due to legal challenges.

See our April feature story, "Biden Must Stop Deporting Haitians" 

Criticism after chaos at the US-Mexico border

Mistreatment of thousands of mostly Haitian asylum-seekers encamped in a small Texas town across the Mexican border has sparked strong criticism internationally and within the US. Filippo Grandi, the UN refugee agency's chief, condemned the mass expulsions of migrants who had sheltered under a highway overpass in "deplorable conditions," while President Joe Biden’s special envoy to Haiti quit in protest, calling the government's policy "inhumane" and "counterproductive."

Since Sept. 19, more than 1,400 Haitians have been returned to Haiti, which was shaken by an earthquake last month and has been beset by widening instability. Images of US border officials on horseback corralling the migrants reminded some of historic slave patrols, while many blamed the US of double standards in dealing with asylum-seekers. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Rio Grande, Mexican officials have increased pressure on migrants separated from others by the cross-border interventions to voluntarily board buses before being flown to Tapachula, on the border with Guatemala. (TNH)

UN rights experts condemn mass expulsion of Haitians

A group of UN human rights experts on Oct. 25 condemned the US policy of mass expulsions of Haitian migrants and refugees, warning that collective expulsions violate international law.

Thousands of Haitian refugees have gathered in Texas since September, and the US began deporting them en masse, under the so-called "Title 42" policy put in place under former president Donald Trump. The US special envoy to Haiti even resigned in protest over the deportation policy. Title 42 expulsions are ostensibly a public health measure and do not concern immigration status.

The experts noted that "[i]nternational law prohibits arbitrary or collective expulsions,” and reminded the US that a state "cannot label all migrants of a certain nationality per se threats to national security." The experts also said that the mass deportations seem to be part of a history in the US of racist exclusion of Black Haitian migrants and refugees at ports of entry. They added that US policy has deterred migrants from pursuing asylum claims and forced them to return to countries where they face discrimination and violence. (Jurist)

Mexico migrant truck crash leaves 53 dead

At least 53 people were killed and dozens injured in a horrific truck accident in southern Mexico's Chiapas state. A truck carrying more than 100 overturned near Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital. The accident is one of the deadliest involving migrants in decades, and follows the death of 13 migrants in a car accident on the California border in March. (NYT)

Haitian asylum seekers sue Biden administration

The Haitian Bridge Alliance on Dec. 20 filed a class action lawsuit against the Biden administration over US officials' alleged abuse of asylum-seeking Haitians.

According to the suit, the Department of Homeland Security violated the rights of thousands of Haitian asylum seekers. The suit claimed the plaintiffs fled danger and instability in Haiti, seeking asylum in the US. Upon arriving, they joined at least 15,000 Haitian asylum-seekers in a makeshift US Customs & Border Protection encampment in Del Rio, Texas. Plaintiffs claimed they suffered from hunger and dehydration due to encampment conditions. (Jurist)

More than 100 Haitian migrants land in Florida

More than 100 Haitians fleeing the island nation arrived by boat in southern Florida on March 14. A week earlier, more than 350 Haitians made a similar crossing in one of the largest events of its kind in years. An increasing number of people are attempting to reach the US by sea, driven by economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, political instability, displacement caused by hurricanes, and hardline policies at the US southern border. (TNH)

US to end pandemic-related border expulsion policy

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 1 released a statement that it will be lifting the pandemic-related border restriction policy, known as Title 42. The Public Health Determination states that the policy will be lifted on May 23. (Jurist)

US judge blocks attempt to end Title 42

The Biden administration's attempt to end the controversial Title 42 was blocked by a US district judge in Louisiana. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attempted to end the policy on April 1, but a group of Republican attorneys general sued the CDC to maintain the order. Judge Robert Summerhays ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, allowing the policy to stay in place while the plaintiffs challenged the administrative process that the CDC used to make the rule change. (Jurist)