Legislators and allies reiterated this during a press conference later that day, where they urged the Biden administration to halt mass deportation flights as well as end the anti-asylum Title 42 policy. Per CBS News, the administration has deported at least 1,400 Haitians on 14 deportation flights under the policy, which was implemented by previous White House against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Legislators on Wednesday expressed outrage over the Biden administration’s adoption of the policy.
The administration announced this past summer it would be continuing it indefinitely. In recent days it announced it would be defending it in court, and appealed a court ruling that ordered it to stop deporting families under the public health order. “We are following the Trump policy,” California Rep. Maxine Waters said. “He is the one that does not follow the Constitution, and would not allow those seeking refuge to be able to petition to get into the country. What the hell are we doing here?”
Waters commented during the press conference that the abuse documented at the border “takes us back hundreds of years … All they’re trying to do is escape from violence in their country.” California Rep. Nanette Barragán, a frequent critic of the previous president’s anti-asylum policies, called the treatment of Haitians “intolerable. It is legal to seek asylum in the United States.” In a tweet, California Rep. Barbara Lee urged officials “to take immediate action to fulfill the promises made by this administration from the beginning: that all migrants—no matter their country of origin or the circumstances surrounding their arrival—will be treated with fairness and decency.”
Democratic leaders including House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Greg Meeks (also present at the White House meeting Wednesday), and House Oversight and Reform Committee member Ayanna Pressley have also urged a halt to both deportations and the continued use of the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, with Thompson and Meeks writing they were “troubled by the plan to repatriate thousands of people to Haiti, despite the instability, violence, and devastation that continue to plague the country,” Roll Call reported.
Presley wrote her committee was “concerned by reports that CBP is deporting migrants to Haiti at a time when the country is still reeling from multiple crises, including the assassination of Haiti’s president this July and an earthquake last month.” The letter was also signed by Committee on Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chair Jamie Raskin. “The committee is troubled by the continued use of public health policies as a basis to conduct mass deportations, and we ask that the administration immediately stop mass deportations to Haiti under Title 42.”
President Biden has faced resounding condemnation from the Democratic caucus for his mass deportations of Haitians and continued use of Title 42, including from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said this week the actions defy “common decency … I urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions and to end this Title 42 policy at our southern border.” A top U.N. official also issued a statement over abuses against Haitian asylum-seekers and migrants.
”I was shocked by images of the deplorable conditions beneath the concrete highway overpass in Del Rio, Texas, where more than 14,000 Haitians had gathered after arduous journeys from a number of countries in the Americas,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said. “The summary, mass expulsions of individuals currently under way under the Title 42 authority, without screening for protection needs, is inconsistent with international norms and may constitute refoulement. I reiterate UNHCR’s call for the US government immediately and fully to lift its Title 42 restrictions in effect since March of 2020 which continue to deny most people arriving at the southwest US land border any opportunity to request asylum.”