Frederica Wilson rails against Haitian deportation flights, calls treatment ‘inhumane’
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) on Thursday called on the Biden administration to immediately end the deportations of Haitian migrants gathered at the southern border, arguing that it is “inhumane” to send people back to a country “in tatters.”
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Wilson, who along with New York Democratic Reps. Yvette Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries represents the largest Haitian populations among Congressional Black Caucus members, argued that “Haiti is not a country that’s in a condition of receiving deportees.”
“We have to face that reality,” she said, citing political instability following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, as well as difficulties recovering following last month’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake and subsequent storms that have hit the island nation.
“There is no need to deport Haitians to Haiti,” she continued. “That’s inhumane.”
— Rep Frederica Wilson (@RepWilson) September 23, 2021
Democrats and human rights groups have sharply criticized the Biden administration for standing by its decision to send back thousands of Haitian migrants, as well as its use of the Trump-era Title 42 policy, which allows border officials to deport migrants without providing them the opportunity to declare asylum.
The issue received particular attention this week when video and images surfaced appearing to show U.S. border agents on horseback chasing down Haitian migrants, including one who was seen aggressively grabbing a man trying to get away.
The Department of Homeland Security this week said it is investigating the photos and footage, saying that it took the allegations “very seriously” and remains “committed to processing migrants in a safe, orderly, and humane way.”
Wilson on Thursday also called for the Biden administration to immediately appoint a new special envoy to Haiti after Daniel Foote stepped down in protest, saying in his resignation letter that he did not wish to be associated with the U.S.’s “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti.”
Foote went on to say that the Biden administration ignored his advice on how to address the surge in migrants, a point which the State Department forcefully pushed back on Thursday.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that proposals from Foote were “fully considered in a rigorous and transparent policy process,” adding that some of the recommendations “were determined to be harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti and were rejected during the policy process.”
Wilson’s appearance on CNN came after she joined other Florida leaders in Miami for a press conference to discuss the conditions facing Haiti migrants, condemning border agents’ treatment of the asylum seekers.
“I’m pissed,” she said at the event, adding that some Haitian migrants have been moved into shelters, including in her South Florida congressional district.