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Pressure Grows to End US Border Expulsions

A Broad Coalition of Groups Calls for Welcome with Dignity

An asylum seeker from Haiti waits at a makeshift encampment at the border port of entry leading to the United States on March 17, 2021 in Tijuana, Mexico. © 2021 Gregory Bull/AP Photo

The administration of US President Joe Biden has announced it will redesignate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), meaning Haitians already present in the United States will be allowed to stay.

Explaining the decision, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

This is an important decision that came after months of dogged advocacy by the Haitian Bridge Alliance and the UndocuBlack Network, among others. Yet the move to protect Haitians in the United States makes the administration’s decision to continue to perform summary expulsions, which the administration of former President Donald Trump started by using the pandemic as a pretext, all the more incongruous.

So far, the Biden administration has knowingly expelled more Haitians to potential harm in its first 100 days than were expelled throughout the 10 months the policy – known as Title 42 – was in place during the Trump administration. The expulsions of Haitians are part of hundreds of thousands of such expulsions that have occurred in the first few months of 2021 alone, sending vulnerable migrants, including asylum seekers, to other countries and dangerous locations in northern Mexico.

The Title 42 summary expulsion policy is a widely discredited, illegal, and discriminatory use of public health authority at land borders, disproportionately impacting Black and brown migrants. It gives border agents the power to quickly turn away migrants arriving at a US border without conducting the required screenings designed to ensure no one risks return to torture or other likely serious harm.

The expulsion policy has now been condemned by public health experts, human rights organizations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, editorial boards, and leading doctors with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who revealed the policy was first enacted as the result of political pressure.

The launch of the Welcome with Dignity campaign today promises to increase that pressure. The campaign, supported by Human Rights Watch and a broad coalition of other groups, aims to transform how the United States welcomes people seeking protection and prioritizes ending summary expulsions.

If the Biden administration is serious about its commitment to implement humane border policies, it should heed the call of the campaign to end Title 42 expulsions immediately and follow the campaign’s roadmap for a more just immigration system.

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