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May 18, 2022

Pressley, Demings, Levin, and Clarke Mark One Year of House Haiti Caucus

WASHINGTON – Today Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), along with Representatives Val Demings (FL-10), Andy Levin (MI-09), and Yvette Clarke (NY-13), released the following statement marking one year since the formation of the House Haiti Caucus:

“The House Haiti Caucus was formed to unite our individual efforts into collective action in Congress on behalf of the freedom and well-being of the Haitian people and diaspora. In the face of mounting security, economic, and political challenges in Haiti, we recommit ourselves to improving U.S.-Haiti policy and remain steadfast in our resolve to improve the difficult situation in the small island nation.

“Over the past year, we have laid out our agenda, closely monitored efforts to restore democracy in Haiti, led efforts to send COVID-19 vaccines to Haiti, and called for stability, security and democracy following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, including a transparent, independent investigation into that act. We held events to elevate the voices of the Haitian community, worked to ensure the safety of kidnapped missionaries, successfully called for redesignation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and a renewal of the lapsed Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program, and called for an immediate halt to deportations of Haitian asylum seekers which have contributed to a worsening crisis. We have tirelessly pushed for real change in U.S.-Haiti policy, from encouraging the Biden-Harris administration to withdraw support for de facto ruler Ariel Henry, to collectively supporting constructive paths towards a democratically elected government in Haiti, backed by the Haitian people.

“As we move ahead into our second year, we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of the Haitian people, including efforts to fight COVID-19 and gang violence, restore opportunity, work to end chronic shortages of food, fuel, and medicine, and ensure that conditions are stable enough for a real democratic resurgence. We chose Haitian Flag Day when we formed our caucus because we believe that freedom and self-determination are the bedrock of Haiti. As we look to the future, we remain unified on one mission: work to usher in Haitian-led movements to restore peace, safety, stability, freedom, human rights, and democracy in Haiti, once and for all.”

Last May, on Haitian Flag Day, Reps. Pressley, Levin, Clarke and Demings announced the formation of the House Haiti Caucus, a Congressional caucus dedicated to pursuing a just foreign policy that puts the needs and aspirations of the Haitian people first.

In February, Reps. Pressley, Judy Chu (CA-27), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07) led 33 other House Democrats on a letter to CDC Director Walensky demanding answers about the agency’s justification for treating asylum seekers as a unique public health threat, how these expulsions are being coordinated, how asylum seekers being returned to dangerous situations are being cared for, and more. Days later, Rep. Pressley once again called on the Biden Administration to reverse the Title 42 Order and other anti-Black immigration policies.

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 April, she joined her colleagues at a press conference reaffirming her support for President Biden’s decision to end Title 42. Full video of her remarks at the press conference is available here.

In September, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Velázquez 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.

In July 2021, the Reps. Pressley, Clarke, Demings and Levin issued a statement condemning the assassination of President Moïse and calling for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to Haiti and the Haitian people.

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.