UN agencies raise concerns about US deportations of Haitian migrants

UN agencies raise concerns about US deportations of Haitian migrants
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United Nations agencies on Tuesday expressed concerns about the U.S.'s deportation of thousands of Haitian migrants from Texas this week, saying that many of them had a right to seek asylum.

"We are disturbed by the images that we have seen and by the fact that we have seen all these migrants and refugees and asylum-seekers in transport to Port-au-Prince," Marta Hurtado, a spokesperson for the U.N. Human Right office, said, according to Reuters.

"We are seriously concerned by the fact that it appears there have not been any individual assessments of the cases ... and that therefore maybe some of these people have not received the protection that they needed," Hurtado added.

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The U.S. began deporting thousands of Haitian migrants this week to Port-au-Prince. On Monday, it was reported that the Biden administration was prioritizing single adults and families who are not seeking asylum for deportation. Unaccompanied minors and some families will be permitted to stay in the U.S. and be given asylum hearing dates.

Around 12,000 migrants are believed to have sheltered under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, living in squalid conditions. Due to the threat of deportation, hundreds of migrants have reportedly crossed back into Mexico.

Spokesperson for the U.N. Refugee Agency Shabia Mantoo called for the U.S. to consider all claims of asylum, regardless of if a migrant is a refugee, Reuters reported.

"While some people arriving at the border may not be refugees, anyone who ... claims to have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their country of origin - they should have access to asylum and to have their claim assessed before being subjected to expulsion or deportation," said Mantoo.

According to Mantoo, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is currently in dialogue with the Biden administration to strike down the March 2020 order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under which the Haitian migrants are being deported. The order was issued last year and cited the need to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"We have been calling for an end to these 'Title 42' public health-related asylum restrictions for quite some time, and to ensure access to asylum for those who lives really depend on it," Mantoo added.