Civil rights

Civil rights leaders urge Biden to end deportations of Haitians


President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NO
Washington, DC 20500

September 21, 2021

Dear President Biden,

As leaders of civil rights and human rights organizations, we are writing at an inflection point of your administration’s commitment to a humane and just immigration policy. In recent weeks, your administration has violated asylum rights and refugee laws promulgated by Congress, and enacted policies that inflict cruelty on Black, Brown, and Indigenous immigrant communities. We are concerned that the commitments made during the election campaign – to meet the United States’ domestic and international legal obligation for asylum, end privatized detention, and separate federal law enforcement from immigration forces. local order – are torn to pieces before our eyes.

The Trump administration has attempted to close the southern border to those fleeing persecution. He instituted a policy of summary deportations and ignored or violated the right to seek asylum under US and international law. Instead of disavowing these policies and this approach, your administration aggressively defends the eviction policy in court, even after a federal district court has declared it illegal. Responsibility for the suffering and death resulting from evictions and summary dismissals now rests entirely with your administration and will be part of your lasting legacy.

Your administration is committed to advancing racial equity in all parts of government. This commitment is belied by the actions of the Department of Homeland Security at the southern border, where massive expulsions and deportation flights return Haitian migrants, without even an asylum eligibility check, to a country in shock. a devastating earthquake and a presidential assassination. As recently as May, your administration recognized the “political crisis and human rights violations” that make returns to Haiti dangerous. These flights confirm our fears that your administration, like its predecessors, is using harsh and illegal policies to try to deter people, especially black migrants, from seeking refuge at the border. Your administration has promised to uphold the principles of racial equity, but is launching immigration policies steeped in anti-black racism.

Your administration continues to place incarceration at the center of its approach to processing and managing immigration. Private prison companies that lose contracts with the Bureau of Prisons or the US Marshals Service see Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as an enthusiastic contractual partner. Those held in ICE’s vast network of prisons and prisons face homophobic and transphobic sexual abuse, abuse and harassment, as well as medical neglect. Their detention is motivated by financial incentives and political calculations, rather than a legitimate or evidence-based purpose.

We continue to present to your administration our policy recommendations that reinvent the current immigration system. Your administration must restore access to asylum at entry points, reverse the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s deportation order, and issue a new termination memo for migrant protection protocols. Deportation flights to Haiti must stop, and those seeking security at our borders must be given a legally assured chance to seek asylum. Your administration must end its reliance on incarceration for immigration processing and instead commit to working with community legal and social service providers. At the highest levels of government, policy making and rhetoric must reject false narratives of public safety and public health that demonize immigrants. Your administration is on the brink of a precipice. We urge you to choose human rights over political demagoguery and fear.


Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director, Advancement Project
Adoubou Traoré, Executive Director, African Advocacy Network
Anthony Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union
Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director, American Immigration Lawyers Association and American Immigration Council (acting)
Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Chair, National Conference of Black Lawyers
Carl Hamad-Lipscombe, Executive Director, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
Vincent Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
Karen Musalo, Director, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies
Angelica Salas, Executive Director, Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants
Lorella Praeli, Co-Chair, Action for Community Change
Dorian Warren, Co-Chair, Action for Community Change
Peter Dross, Acting Executive Director, Center for Victims of Torture
Silky Shah, Executive Director, Detention Watch Network
Laura Valdez, Executive Director, Dolores Street Community Services
Guerline Jozef, Executive Director, Haitian Bridge Alliance
Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, HIAS
Michael Breen, President and CEO, Human Rights First
Kenneth Roth, executive director, Human Rights Watch
Jojo Annobil, Executive Director, Immigrant Justice Corps
Eric Cohen, Executive Director, Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Franciscka Lucien, Executive Director, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Becca Heller, Executive Director, International Refugee Assistance Project
Wade Henderson, Interim President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Ken Whittaker, Executive Director, Michigan United
Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Managing Advisor, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center
Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director, National Center for Immigration Law
Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director, National Immigration Project, National Lawyers Guild
Nicole Melaku, Executive Director, National Partnership for New Americans
Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition
Laura Martin, Executive Director, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada
John Slocum, Acting Executive Director, Refugee Council USA
Vicki B. Gaubeca, Director, Southern Border Communities Coalition
Margaret Huang, Executive Director, Southern Poverty Law Center
Patrice Lawrence, co-director, UndocuBlack Network
Greisa Martinez, Executive Director, United We Dream
Sushma Raghavan, Acting Executive Director, Unite Oregon
Nicholas Turner, President, Vera Institute of Justice
Sarah Costa, Executive Director, Women’s Refugee Commission