Mar 27, 2024 - World

Biden urged to expand Haiti migrant protections as violence escalates

A woman passes burning tires with wrapped food in her hand in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, earlier this month. Photo: Guerinault Louis/Anadolu via Getty Images

President Biden is facing pressure from dozens of lawmakers and hundreds of rights groups to expand immigration protections for people fleeing extreme violence from armed gangs in Haiti.

Context: Weeks of violence by armed Haitian gangs have left thousands of people dead, kidnapped or injured and aggravated one of the world's most severe humanitarian crises, with some 5.5 million Haitians needing assistance and over 125,000 children "imminently" at risk of severe malnutrition, per the U.N.

The big picture: The San Diego-based Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) and 481 rights groups urged the Biden administration in a letter Wednesday to extend and offer a new designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and a moratorium on deportations.

  • 67 U.S. Congress members wrote to the administration last week seeking the same action.
  • The rights groups' letter to Biden, State Department Secretary Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also notes the historic role of the U.S. in Haiti.

What they're saying: "If the United States cannot keep its personnel safe in Haiti, then the Haitian government is unlikely to keep Haitian nationals safe," wrote the groups, in reference to the U.S. bolstering security at its embassy in the Caribbean country and evacuating nonessential staff there earlier this month.

  • A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said in an emailed statement that DHS officials were "monitoring the situation in Haiti and coordinating closely with the State Department and international partners."
  • The spokesperson said at this time, "irregular migration flows through the Caribbean remain low."

What we're watching: The U.S. government regularly re-evaluates TPS.

  • The review for Haiti will come up again in August.

Read the rights groups' letter, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper: Hundreds of Americans appeal to State Department to help them leave Haiti

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