Sept. 23, 2021
Attorneys General Call
for Fair, Compassionate Treatment of Haitian Refugees Fleeing Crisis
– Today, Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a coalition of 17 attorneys
general in sending a letter to President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland
Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressing concern over the treatment of
thousands of Haitian refugees currently seeking humanitarian aid along the
border in Texas. The coalition also urged the administration to reevaluate its
rush to unfairly expel refugees to Haiti.
their letter, the coalition is calling on the Biden administration to ensure federal
officials treat Haitian refugees with dignity and compassion. The attorneys
general are also urging the administration to exercise its authority to give
Haitian nationals seeking refuge in the United States the same due process
other immigrants and refugees receive by assessing each Haitian refugee on a
case-by-case basis, rather than continuing a disparate immigration policy that
rushes the repatriation of Haitian refugees to a country that has suffered from
political unrest after the assassination of their president and a humanitarian
crisis on the heels of a devastating earthquake and tropical storm.
disappointed in the horrible and inhumane images that I've seen at the
border," said AG Ford. "The Biden administration must ensure that
refugees are treated with compassion and care and must be respectful of the
rights held by refugees and asylum seekers."
recent days, photographs and video emerged of U.S. immigration officials using
inhume tactics, including charging at and attempting to whip Haitian refugees,
in Del Rio, Texas. This comes as thousands of refugees continue to flee Haiti
as the country faces unprecedented political upheaval following this summer’s
presidential assassination and struggles to rebuild critical infrastructure after
a destabilizing August earthquake.
today’s letter, the coalition commends the federal government’s commitment to
investigating the inhumane tactics of U.S. immigration officials in Texas and
for its recent decision to increase the number of refugees who will be allowed
into the United States. However, the coalition also expresses concern over the
continuation of a summary deportation policy that is forcing many Haitian
refugees seeking asylum or other humanitarian assistance in the United States
to return to Haiti without any consideration of the legitimacy of their claims
coalition asserts that Haitian refugees deserve the same due process as all
other individuals attempting to immigrate or flee to the United States, and the
circumstances of every Haitian seeking refuge in the United States should be
assessed on a case-by-case basis. The attorneys general argue that this
individualized evaluation should factor in both the time a person has been away
from Haiti and the circumstances they will likely face if forced to return amid
Haiti’s current humanitarian and governance crises.
attorneys general note that the federal government has several tools at its
disposal to address the dire conditions Haitian refugees are facing in Del Rio,
including the president’s ability to exercise discretionary refugee admission
authority during a humanitarian crisis. In the event of an unforeseen emergency
refugee situation, the president has authority to designate a number of
refugees to be admitted into the United States that is separate from the annual
cap on immigrants allowed into the U.S. The attorneys general point out that
the admission of Haitian refugees is justified by the grave humanitarian
concerns currently facing the people of Haiti.
coalition also suggests that the administration could invoke country-specific
measures to allow these migrants to legally remain in the United States while
conditions in their country of origin are too hazardous for them to safely
return. Additionally, the U.S. attorney general may parole a refugee into the
United States. The coalition argues that the administration should exercise its
discretion, which the law expressly provides, to demonstrate compassion and
fairness in the treatment of those Haitians seeking refuge in our country.
addition to Nevada, the following attorneys general joined the coalition: California,
Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont,
Virginia and Washington.
coalition letter is attached.