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Safety in Haiti Remains a Long Way off

All Forced Returns of Haitians in the US Should be Suspended

People gather in front of the San Francisco Federal Building to protest the Biden administration's handling of the Haitian refugee crisis in San Francisco, California, US, September 24, 2021. © 2021 Yichuan Cao/Sipa USA via AP Photo

President Joe Biden’s recent decision to impose unprecedented restrictions on the right to seek asylum in the United States casts doubt on his willingness to renew much needed temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians in the US, which is due to expire on August 4.

Despite the current TPS designation for Haitians, which grants people the right to temporarily live in the US because their home country is deemed too unsafe to return to, the Biden administration has renewed deportation flights to Haiti after nearly all commercial flights had stopped landing in the country over safety concerns. Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince has warned US citizens to leave there “as soon as possible.”

While the US has provided TPS for Haitians since 2010, Haiti’s human rights crisis has only grown worse since.

One woman, Josephine T. (not her real name), told Human Rights Watch about her encounter with members of the G9 armed criminal group in Port-au-Prince in 2023 at a place called Carrefour la Mort, or Crossroads of Death. Gangsters killed her brother and raped Josephine and her sister. “They rape us because they are in control, because they have guns, because there is nobody to defend us. There is no police or state,” she said. 

As long as it remains too dangerous to walk the streets of Haitian cities, Haitians outside the country fearing return need to be protected.

The United Nations Independent Expert on Human Rights in Haiti warned in June 2023 that “relentless violence and systematic human rights violations in Haiti do not currently allow for the safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Haitians to the country.” In March 2024, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reiterated its call to all governments “not to forcibly return anyone to Haiti, including those who have had their asylum claims rejected.”

Biden should not only renew TPS but also expand the “CHNV Parole Program” introduced for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans, which provides a safe and orderly path to safety for those who qualify. He should also direct border officials to stop putting arriving Haitians in expedited removal procedures. Finally, all deportation flights to Haiti should immediately be suspended and the US Coast Guard should refrain from intercepting seaworthy boats and summarily returning people to danger.

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