Arlington, Va. — The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) welcomes the decision to re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti for 18 months in response to the escalating humanitarian crisis and violence unfolding in the country. This designation will relieve thousands of Haitians in the country at risk of deportation and allow for an opportunity to seek employment authorization, which will reduce economic burdens on this community.
In a press release, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said, “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime – aggravated by environmental disaster – compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today.”
Multiple government statements in recent months and regular media reports offer a glimpse of the tragic conditions facing Haitians today, evidenced by the United States and the United Nations sanctions on groups and individuals most responsible for the deterioration of peace and security in the country that underscore the threat to civilian lives in the country.
The United States has long guaranteed the right to seek asylum to individuals who arrive at our southern border and ask for protection. Yet since March 20, 2020, that fundamental right has been suspended mainly under Title 42, which was created to slow the entry of communicable diseases but has since been used to deny asylum for tens of thousands of would-be applicants. Both migrants seeking a better life in the United States and those wanting to apply for asylum have been turned away and “expelled” back to Mexico or their home countries. From September 2021 to September 2022, the Biden Administration deported more than 20,000 Haitians.
This glaring contradiction that Haiti is too unsafe to allow Haitians in the United States to be deported while those seeking asylum via the Southern border are to be summarily deported is deeply troubling. Equally alarming are reports that the administration is considering using the Migrant Operations Center on Guantánamo Bay as a reception and holding center. For Haitians and advocates alike, Guantánamo Bay is as low a moment for the United States as the use of Title 42 to detain and deport migrants. It should be remembered that in 1992 Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. ordered the camp’s closure in 1993, calling it unconstitutional.
Neither Title 42 nor the Migrant Operations Centre at Guantánamo Bay nor recent sanctions have succeeded in slowing migration to the United States or addressed the root causes that compelled Secretary Mayorkas to re-designate TPS for Haiti. Like many countries, root causes are complex and require multi-faceted responses, including TPS.
To this end, in light of conditions in Haiti, we at ECDC urge the Administration to reconsider the continued deportation of Haitians and offer a safe haven, if not humanitarian parole, for those seeking refuge in parallel with meaningful engagement to address the humanitarian, economic, security, and other challenges facing Haiti today.