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Haitian Advocates Criticize Biden, Say Haiti Needs Reform Before Migrants Are Deported There

HaitiansDelRioTexas.jpeg
Eric Gay
/
AP
Haitians crossing the Rio Grande into Del Rio, Texas, last week.

South Florida Haitian leaders are criticizing the Biden Administration as it begins deporting thousands of Haitian migrants who crossed into Texas last week.

The Biden administration plans to deport most of the 14,000 Haitian migrants who crossed into Texas last week. But South Florida Haitian leaders say President Biden should focus on helping reform Haiti instead of returning people there.

Images of the thousands of undocumented Haitians living under a bridge by the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, are a new border crisis for Biden. Over the weekend, the first of those migrants began arriving in Haiti on deportation flights under a U.S. pandemic policy that denies them asylum application.

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Haitian leaders in South Florida say that contradicts the Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, that Biden granted Haitians in the U.S. this year due to Haiti’s humanitarian crises.

“This is unconscionable given what is happening in Haiti," said Gepsie Metellus, executive director of the Haitian nonprofit Sant La in North Miami.

"The widespread gang takeover of the country; the Haitian government is non-existent, it has collapsed. These are circumstances that will cause people to flee for their lives again once they're returned there."

Haitian migrant advocates warn crises like Del Rio will continue unless the U.S. stops propping up the corrupt Haitian governments that create those circumstances. Steve Forester is the immigration policy coordinator in Miami for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

“We’re not addressing the root cause of the issue," said Steve Forester, immigration policy coordinator in Miami for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

"We need to change the foreign policy towards Haiti and finally start supporting democracy and civil society leaders there.”

Haiti is still reeling from the brutal assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July and a powerful earthquake last month that killed thousands.