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.