November 27, 2021

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Black immigration groups file civil rights complaint over Haitian abuses, seek halt to deportations


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The complaint, which is not yet public but has been viewed by The Grio, cites “verbal abuse and physical violence/intimidation,” denial of access to interpreters, and denial of peoples’ “statutory and international law rights to apply for asylum,” the report said. Advocacy groups call for a halt to deportations so that people may testify about abuses or abuses they witnessed, and argue that people deported in violation of their rights should be returned. 

”Palmer added that if Black immigration advocacy groups do not have their asks met by the administration, they are considering legal recourse,” the report noted. “’We are exploring our options,’ she said.”

This is not the first or second or even 860th complaint CRCL has faced over the mistreatment of people in federal immigration detention and/or by federal immigration officials, but it shines much-needed light on the added harms faced by Black immigrants, in particular. “Immigrant detention is a horrible, dehumanizing experience for everyone,” RAICES said in a 2020 report. “But ICE makes it even worse for Black immigrants.” Black immigrants are six times more likely to be thrown into solitary confinement—which is torture—and Haitian immigrants have faced significantly pricier bonds that make freedom impossible.

Haitian Bridge Alliance also filed a complaint last October that said immigration agents and private prison officers had tortured a number of Cameroonian men in order to coerce them into signing their own deportation orders, leaving one with several broken fingers. Two of those men were later pulled off a deportation flight at the last minute.

Officials “are supposed to be applying the same set of legal frameworks and and burdens of proof and legal standards. But we know that anti-Black bias and prejudice lives within people,” Palmer continued to The Grio. “There are inconsistencies in how people are treated when in ICE custody. We know that there are discrepancies in which people get to actually complete credible fear interviews to express their desire to seek asylum or their fear of returning home.” 

UndocuBlack co-director Patrice Lawrence noted in a CNN op-ed that 100,000 Cubans were welcomed by the U.S. over a decade from 1980 to 1990. Haitians at the border comprise a fraction of that, but have instead been met by ramped-up deportation flights to a nation that the Biden administration itself has acknowledged is just not safe to return to. “Haitians have gone through tremendous hardship, and are asking only for the opportunity to exercise their right to seek asylum,” Lawrence continued in her op-ed.

The Biden administration has been quickly deporting people through the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, which was blocked by a court in a ruling set to go into effect in four days. That ruling said that officials must stop deporting families under the policy. However, the administration is shockingly appealing that ruling, despite Biden having pledged as a candidate to end the previous president’s “detrimental asylum policies.” That should include the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, Black lawmakers argued to the administration during a White House meeting last week. “@TheBlackCaucus is demanding answers & policy changes to ensure America remains a beacon of hope for refugees,” Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty wrote at the time. “Asylum is and always will be a human right.”


“Immigration is very much a Black issue,” Palmer continued to The Grio. “It has always been and will continue to be until many things change in the country.”


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