Hope Border Institute joins campaign for justice for Haitian migrants in the Americas.

 

Representatives of Haitian migrant organizations, advocates, and policy analysts, including the Archdiocese of Miami, Catholic Legal Services, the Universidad Javeriana and CODHES[1] of Bogota, Colombia, the Jesuit Migration Service, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Task Force on the Americas of the National Lawyers’ Guild, and Hope Border Institute, among others[2], have launched a new international campaign to demand justice for Haitian migrants throughout the Americas. This campaign builds on the first and second forums on Haitian migration in the Americas, held in Cartagena, Colombia and Miami, Florida respectively, on May 25-26 and November 30-December 1 of 2017.  

 

The second forum concluded on December 1st and issued a Declaration[3] that urges recognition of Haiti’s continued inability to receive and integrate deported Haitians because of the devastating effects of successive natural disasters (2010 earthquakes and  hurricanes Matthew and Maria in 2016 and 2017, which together killed over 300,000 people and displaced another 1.5 million[4]), its status as the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest and most unequal in the world according to the World Bank[5], and its persistent political instability. The Declarations issued in Cartagena and Miami call upon countries throughout the region to:

 

  1. implement immediate actions to guarantee the exercise of the right to migrate for Haitians, support for the protection of Haitian migrants from criminalization and discrimination, and
     

  2. support the inclusion of “stable and durable” commitments in defense of the rights of Haitian migrants in the ongoing process that is intended to culminate with the adoption of Global Compacts for migrants and refugees by an unprecedented summit to be held at the UN in September, 2018. 

 

These Declarations also underline the need for the UN and the international community to address the structural causes and origins of forced migration from Haiti, including the UN’s obligation to redress the consequences of its responsibility[6] for the devastating cholera outbreak (over 9,000 dead and 760,000 treated)[7] and sexual abuses (including a child sex ring)[8] committed by UN personnel within the framework of its peace-keeping operations there, and the following demands:
 

  1. All migration policies and legislation across the Americas should be based upon an international rights and human rights framework, and should include respect for due process and the principle of solidarity.
     

  2. The Trump Administration must rescind i) its decision to end the TPS program for 59,000 Haitians and other migrants from other countries who need protection without legalizing their migration status and ii) other policies and practices that criminalize and stigmatize these populations. Directives to return and/or deport Haitians have grave consequences, given that this population has for years constructed their lives with great sacrifices in the U.S., with children who were raised there. The administration’s decision to deny extension TPS for Haitians constitutes a violation of the internationally recognized rights and dignity of Haitian migrants, and is discriminatory and racist towards a group which is protected against acts of this kind because of its African descent.
     

  3. The Congress of the United States should pass legislation to regularize the status of Haitian migrants with TPS so that they can obtain legal residency in this country.
     

  4. The Dominican Republic should cease its discriminatory and exclusionary policies against persons of Haitian origin and Haitian migrants, pursuant to a series of historic decisions issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.[9] It should also fully reinstate the nationality of Dominicans of Haitian descent who were made stateless by the Dominican Supreme Court’s Ruling 168-13[10].
     

  5. The countries of Mexico, Central America, and the Andean Region should strengthen their system of protection of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers to prevent and respond to the human rights violations committed against migrants in transit, as well as the phenomena of trafficking, with special attention paid to female and children migrants. In addition, they should advance the construction or reform of norms, public policies, and adequate institutions that focus on the rights of migrants.
     

  6. Southern Cone countries must maintain multilateral efforts that support the rights of Haitian migrants and advance processes of protection and initiatives moving in the direction of a Latin American dimension of citizenship that is rights-based. Countries of transit and destination must respect and guarantee the rights of migrants and the principle of non-refoulement pursuant to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol, which protects migrants from their forcible return to conditions of persecution
     

Haitian migrants and asylum seekers have been long subjected to discrimination by U.S policy dating back to the Reagan and Bush administrations’ decisions to order the interception of Haitian “boat people” in the Caribbean as they fled the country’s U.S-backed military dictatorships in the 1980’s and 1990’s, at the same time as much more favorable treatment was accorded to those fleeing alleged persecution in Cuba and Nicaragua.[11] Approximately 21,000 Haitians were singled out as well for detention at the U.S military base in Guantanamo beginning in 1991, including eventually some 270 held at an adjacent facility because they were identified as HIV-positive[12]; overall tens of thousands of Haitians were intercepted and forcibly returned to Haiti during this period, and hundreds of thousands of others forcibly displaced to the Dominican Republic and elsewhere (id.).

Haiti continues to be a key test case for the need to transcend and redefine the traditional distinction between those who migrate for economic reasons, and those driven from their homes by structural forces over which they have no control such as natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, generalized civil strife and political crises, and endemic poverty and inequality. These are the kinds of conditions that led Latin American countries to adopt the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees in 1984[13], which proposed the expansion of traditional notions of refugee status in response to regional migration crises during the early 1980’s affecting Central America, Haiti, and Cuba. There is a continuing urgent humanitarian imperative to act regionally and globally along these lines given current trends in the region as well. The consequences of failing to do so are evident to us every day in the lives and suffering of the migrants from Latin America and throughout the world who continue to seek refuge in our region, on both sides of the border, including thousands of Haitians stranded without international protection in the streets of Tijuana.

Hope Border Institute was one of the co-organizers and co-sponsors of the Second Forum on Haitian Migration in the Americas and is committed to supporting the demands of the Miami and Cartagena declarations as an integral part of our work to connect the demands for justice of families and communities in the U.S-Mexico border region with convergent demands by migrants and refugees elsewhere in the U.S and throughout the world who have been marginalized and subjected to discrimination and other negations of their dignity.

JUSTICE FOR HAITIAN MIGRANTS IN THE AMERICAS

01-17-2018

[1] Consultoria para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento, Colombia’s leading advocacy and research organization specializing in issues regarding forced displacement and forced migration, see: http://www.codhes.org

[2]  http://wp.caribbeannewsnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/declaration_haitian_migration.pdf

[3] see link at footnote 2, above

[4] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/haiti-earthquake-anniversary_us_5875108de4b02b5f858b3f9c

[5] http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/haiti/overview

[6] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2745778-Haiti-2nd-Rapporteur-Letter-Oct-2015.html; 1,000 Haitians are estimated to die each year and thousands more have sickened due to this outbreak since 2010, which spread from Haiti to at minimum the U.S, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/03/cholera-haiti-un-experts-chastise-ban-ki-moon; https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1073738-140311-laventure-v-un-filed-complaint-2.html

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-scandal-of-sexual-abuse-mars-the-uns-exit-from-haiti/2017/04/16/d6947bde-213a-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html?utm_term=.d86fb57ec535

[9] http://corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_282_ing.pdf; http://hrbrief.org/2013/04/inter-american-court-determines-that-dominican-republic-used-excessive-force-against-haitian-migrants/; http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_130_%20ing.pdf

[10] http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/multimedia/2016/DominicanRepublic/dominican-republic.html; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/world/americas/dominicans-of-haitian-descent-cast-into-legal-limbo-by-court.html

[11] http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/29/world/us-to-close-refugee-camp-at-guantanamo-to-haitians.html; http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/gavigane.html

[12] https://read.dukeupress.edu/radical-history-review/article-abstract/2013/115/142/22218/Carceral-Quarantine-at-GuantanamoLegacies-of-US?redirectedFrom=fulltext

[13] http://www.acnur.org/cartagena30/en/cartagena-declaration-on-refugees/

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