Advocates for Haitian asylum seekers anticipate an end to migrant expulsions

Advocates of Haitian migrants in South Florida are asking President Joe Biden to put an end to expulsions.

MIAMI – South Florida advocates for Haitian migrants are calling on President Joe Biden to allow those who make the desperate crossing to the U.S. to file an asylum claim.

A group of politicians and advocates joined Rep. Frederica Wilson’s disdain for Title 42, an order former President Donald Trump invoked in 2020 and the Biden administration has continued to enforce.

“This policy has disproportionally hurt the Haitian immigrants,” Wilson said adding, she expects Biden to put an end to the policy in the next few days.

Human rights activists have criticized it as a violation of international laws even though Trump implemented it as a public health measure during the coronavirus pandemic.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended it in 2020 and may soon change the recommendation.

North Miami Councilwoman Mary Estimé-Irvin, a Haitian American, said Title 42 needs to be put to an end “sooner rather than later” because it has nothing to do with COVID-19. She defined it as “a tactic to stop Black and Brown people” from seeking refuge in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security recently released a fact sheet anticipating an increase in asylum seekers. The DHS plan includes deploying personnel. Wilson said there will be about 300 and she wants some of them to be fluent in Haitian Creole.

Despite the Title 42 measure, the U.S. Coast Guard has continued to interdict Haitian migrants who are risking their lives at sea in unreliable vessels to get to South Florida.

“People are leaving the country because of fear, insecurity, gangs, persecution, rape, abuse, human rights violations, poverty, and lack of opportunity,” said Florida Rep. Marie Paul Woodson, D-Pembroke Pines, who was born in Port-de-Paix, Haiti.

In September, more than 15,000 camped under a Texas bridge near the US-Mexico border. They were all waiting to claim asylum. The Trump administration deported almost all of them. Some are still stranded in camps in Mexico.

“It’s unconscionable that people are being deported to Haiti,” Wilson said.

Related reports

March 15

A group of about 140 Haitian migrants came to shore in the Lower Florida Keys on Monday morning, border authorities confirmed, the latest in a string of suspected smuggling operations.

Oct. 21st

Up to 1,000 migrants, who are mostly from Haiti, arrive to small coastal town in Colombia daily on their way to the U.S. through Central America.

About the Authors:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.