'Defies common decency': Schumer calls on Biden admin to halt Haitian deportations, end Title 42

'Defies common decency': Schumer calls on Biden admin to halt Haitian deportations, end Title 42
Sen. Charles Schumer in January 2016, Glenn Fawcett

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer forcefully condemned the Biden administration's mass deportation of Haitian asylum-seekers and migrants, as well as its continued use of the previous administration's scientifically unsound and unlawful anti-asylum Title 42 policy. The speech, delivered from the Senate chamber on Tuesday, represents one of the most significant criticisms of the administration's actions yet.

"Right now, I am told there are four flights scheduled to deport these asylum seekers back to a country that cannot receive them. Such a decision defies common sense. It also defies common decency," Schumer said. Per CBS News, the Biden administration deported 523 Haitians on those four deportation flights, with another four scheduled for Wednesday.

Haitian asylum-seekers have been among the at least 700,000 people deported by the Biden administration under the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, revealed last October to have been implemented under political pressure by the previous administration. "The top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doctor who oversees these types of orders had refused to comply with a Trump administration directive saying there was no valid public health reason to issue it," the Associated Press reported.

Despite this fact, the Biden administration announced in August it was continuing the flawed policy. To the dismay of asylum-seekers, their advocates, and all who believe in U.S. asylum law, the administration last week appealed a court decision that had ordered it to stop using the policy to deport families. In his remarks on Tuesday, Schumer joined the chorus of voices urging the administration to respect the U.S. asylum rights of vulnerable people and end the policy once and for all.

"I urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions and to end this Title 42 policy at our southern border," Schumer said. "We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws. We must allow asylum seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and be afforded due process."

Schumer also condemned racist abuse committed by border agents, saying "[w]e've all seen these horrible images coming from our southern border as Haitian asylum-seekers—simply looking to escape tyranny and the problems that they have in their country—have been met at our doorstep with unimaginable indignity. Images of Haitian migrants being hit with whips and other forms of physical violence is completely unacceptable. This behavior must be addressed and we must provide accountability. The images turn your stomach. It must be stopped, this kind of violence."

So must the deportations and Title 42. "First, the facts. Haitians, like all people, have a legal right to seek asylum in the United States," UndocuBlack Network co-director Patrice Lawrence wrote on CNN. "What should the United States do? It should honor the law on asylum and allow these migrants to exercise their rights. The United States has the tools to ensure an orderly and fair process to determine each asylum seeker's case. We have done this before: From 1980 to 1990, the United States processed more than 100,000 Cubans seeking safety during the Mariel boatlift. And this was done under a Republican administration."

"The moral argument is even clearer," Lawrence continued. "Haitians have gone through tremendous hardship and are asking only for the opportunity to exercise their right to seek asylum. Groups like Haitian Bridge Alliance stand ready to assist those seeking safety, as do dozens of religious and non-religious community partners."

Dozens of lawmakers led by House Haiti Caucus co-chair Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Nydia Velázquez have previously called on the Biden administration to halt Haitian deportations, writing that the nation's "ability to safely receive its citizens will take months, if not years, to secure." Like Lawrence noted, the Biden administration acknowledged that in designating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status earlier this year. The Biden administration should be respecting the fundamental asylum rights of Haitians, not deporting them back to harm and unsafe conditions.

"I commit to work with this administration to providing the resources so that we can establish safe, orderly, and humane processes for those seeking protection," Schumer concluded in his remarks. "Again, the policies that are being enacted now—and the horrible treatment of these innocent people who have come to the border—must stop immediately."

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