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February 16, 2022

Pressley, Bush, Colleagues Call on Biden to Reverse Title 42 Order and Anti-Black Immigration Policies

Text to Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and 100 House and Senate colleagues in urging President Biden to reverse inhumane immigration policies – such as Title 42, originally introduced under the Trump Administration – that continue to disproportionately harm Black migrants. The letter comes in the aftermath of disturbing images from September 2021, in which Texas border patrol agents were seen beating and abusing Haitian migrants entering the United States.

This past week, Rep. Pressley, alongside Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), led 33 other House Democrats in demanding answers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on their use of the Title 42 policy.

“Our country has a long history of inhumane treatment of Black migrants, which is particularly evident in the historic mistreatment of Haitians,” the lawmakers wrote to President Biden. “In 1981, the United States began interdicting Haitian refugees in the high seas and over the course of the next decade sent some 25,000 asylum seekers back to an island suffering under the rule of brutal U.S.-backed dictatorships. In 1991, the first Bush Administration opened a detention camp in Guantanamo Bay for over 300 HIV-positive Haitian men, women and children, including those who were possibly exposed to HIV/AIDS. This policy was challenged in court and resulted in a settlement requiring the resettlement of those detained in the United States. In 2011, even after Haiti was designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) following a catastrophic earthquake and a massive cholera epidemic, deportations to Haiti continued, leading to at least one death.”

“It is time to undo the United States’ draconian immigration policies, particularly policies introduced under the Trump Administration, such as the use of Title 42, that circumvent our humanitarian obligations,” the lawmakers concluded. “In addition to stopping removals to regions such as Haiti that face serious insecurity, we also urge you to take steps to address the systemic challenges Black migrants face to receiving equal treatment. As a starting point, we recommend the Department of Homeland Security, in concert with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), conduct a wholistic review of the disparate treatment of Black migrants throughout our immigration system, make available to the public the results of this review and take steps to remedy disparities at each step of the immigration enforcement process. It is essential that we recommit ourselves to reversing anti-Black policies, including by adopting a human-rights centered approach to supporting immigrants and people seeking asylum in the United States.”

In the House, the letter was co-signed by Representatives: Jerrold Nadler, Sheila Jackson Lee, Gregory W. Meeks, Bennie Thompson, Carolyn B. Maloney, Adam Smith, Karen Bass, Jamaal Bowman, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Joaquin Castro, Judy Chu, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Jason Crow, Danny K. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Diana DeGette, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Jahana Hayes, Steven Horsford, Sara Jacobs, Pramila Jayapal, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Mondaire Jones, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Andy Levin, Ted Lieu James P. McGovern, Mark Pocan, Kweisi Mfume, Grace Meng, Marie Newman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Jamie Raskin, Linda T. Sánchez, Jan Schakowsky, Marilyn Strickland, Rashida Tlaib, Juan Vargas, Nydia M. Velazquez, Frederica S. Wilson, Doris Matsui, Raúl Grijalva, Earl Blumenauer, Veronica Escobar, Yvette D. Clarke, Mark Takano, Mary Gay Scanlon, Alan Lowenthal, Ruben Gallego, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Betty McCollum, Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine M. Clark, Suzanne Bonamici, Ritchie Torres, Ro Khanna, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Terri A. Sewell, Peter Welch, Thomas R. Suozzi, Maxine Waters, Jerry McNerney, Darren Soto, Jimmy Gomez, Albio Sires, David Cicilline, Rick Larsen, John Yarmuth, G.K. Butterfield, Grace F. Napolitano, Nanette Diaz Barragán, J. Luis Correa, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Al Green, Nikema Williams, Gerald E. Connolly, Steve Cohen, Al Lawson and Kaiali’i Kahele.

In the Senate, the letter was co-signed by Senators Schumer (D-NY), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Warren (D-MA), Padilla (D-CA), Hirono (D-HI), Merkley (D-OR), Wyden (D-OR), Feinstein (D-CA), Sanders (I-VT), Baldwin (D-WI), Cardin (D-MD), and Van Hollen (D-MD).

Rep. Pressley, a founding member of the House Haiti Caucus, has been an outspoken critic of the Title 42 policy, which has been weaponized to deny migrants—including Haitian and other Black migrants—their legal right to claim asylum in the United States.

Rep. Pressley has consistently called on the Department of Homeland Security to end the practice of expelling migrants under Title 42 and to employ alternative forms of humanitarian relief for detainees subject to deportation for the remainder of the pandemic.

In September, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07) led 54 of their colleagues on a letter calling on the Biden Administration to immediately halt deportations to Haiti and provide humanitarian parole protections for those seeking asylum. The lawmakers’ letter followed the Administration’s resumption of deportation flights to Haiti as thousands of Haitian migrants continue to await an opportunity to make an asylum claim at the border. 

Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues on the House Oversight Committee in demanding answers regarding the inhumane treatment of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, by Border Patrol agents on horseback and pushing to Biden Administration to end the ongoing use and weaponization of Title 42.

Massachusetts is home to the third largest Haitian diaspora community in the country, with approximately 46,000 Haitians and Haitian-Americans living across the state and over half in the Boston metropolitan area. Additionally, Massachusetts is home to more than 4,700 Haitians with Temporary Protected Status.