Haitian Families Take on Department of Homeland Security
A U.S. organization defending the rights of Haitians, Haitian-Americans United, has charged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with detaining the many Haitian asylum seekers in overcrowded and inhumane conditions. As occurs across the country to the many asylum seekers, including children, from Central America and elsewhere, they were denied medical care and treatment. This denial of medical treatment included pregnant women and sick children, leading to at least one miscarriage. The group filed a complaint and are demanding an investigation into the unjust and illegal conditions at the border.
The Haitians left a dangerous situation in Haiti, which the U.S. government itself acknowledged, yet were being driven back into Mexico and forced to remain for 10 days in an outdoor camp beneath the border bridge in Del Rio, Texas. They were denied access to water, food, sanitation, hygiene products and basic protection against the elements, including blankets. The same was true after they were transferred to detention facilities. According to the complaint filed, many were detained for up to 49 days, and families were given minimal food, “only apples or a slice of bread to share for days,” according to the press release. In addition the families were denied translators for those speaking Haitian Kreyòl. They ask that DHS provide a report concerning their inhumane treatment and that it be made available to the public and Congress.
Among other demands being made are:
– An immediate DHS and Inspector General investigation into how racial animus and national origin discrimination produced the unlawful detention conditions at the border. – Immediate testing for COVID-19 and vaccine access for immigrants. – An end to prolonged detention, including a commitment to release immigrants from DHS custody within 72 hours, which is the law.
They also condemned the conditions facing Haitians and all the refugees seeking asylum, demanding access to food, shelter, medical care, and hygiene along with the immediate reduction of overcrowded conditions that place families at imminent risk of life-threatening COVID-19 infection, illness, and death.