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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday joined dozens of other Democrats in calling on the Biden administration to stop deportations to Haiti and end the use of Title 42 public health protections to expel migrants — two radical demands that come as the U.S. is still in the throes of a historic border crisis.
In a letter to President Biden, more than 100 lawmakers, led by Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., expressed “deep concern over the treatment of Black migrants.”
They cited the Haitian migrant crisis in September, during which thousands of Haitians surged toward the border in Del Rio and camped out under a nearby bridge. The lawmakers claimed that the U.S. “has a long history of inhumane treatment of Black migrants, which is particularly evident in the historic mistreatment of Haitians.”
The Biden administration deported thousands of Haitians to Haiti as part of its resolution of the crisis, but thousands more were also allowed into the country. Meanwhile, due to the country’s security concerns and social unrest, the Biden administration last year designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status — allowing immigrants to remain in the country even if they are here illegally.
“Haiti simply cannot safely accept the repatriation of its nationals, which is why we are so deeply concerned with the large-scale removals and expulsions of individuals back to Haiti,” they argued.
In arguing that Haitians should no longer be deported to their home country, the lawmakers looked to slap blame on the United States — including actions by the U.S. military a century ago.
“For Haitians in particular, we must also be accountable for our political decisions and the decades of intervention by the United States, including a military occupation from 1915 to 1934, that has contributed to the political destabilization, impoverishment, and ecological vulnerability of Haiti—forces that compel Haitians to seek safety and refuge outside of their country,” they claimed.
They called not only for the ending of deportations to Haiti, but also the ending of Title 42, the Trump-era public health order that allows for the rapid expulsions of migrants at the southern border due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Democrats have largely embraced and encouraged COVID-19 related restrictions, the imposition of Title 42 restrictions on illegal immigrants has been a step too far for the lawmakers — even though it is being used for an increasingly smaller percentage of migrants.
“It is time to undo the United States’ draconian immigration policies, particularly policies introduced under the Trump Administration, such as the use of Title 42, that circumvent our humanitarian obligations,” they said. “In addition to stopping removals to regions such as Haiti that face serious insecurity, we also urge you to take steps to address the systemic challenges Black migrants face to receiving equal treatment.”
They went on to call for a broad review of the “disparate treatment of Black migrants” in the U.S. immigration system and for that review to be made public.
This comes as the number of migrants hitting the border each month remains high. There were approximately 1.7 million migrant encounters in FY 2021 and more than 178,800 in December alone.