Briefing Congress on Haitian Refugee Crisis

Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice

Lawyers for Civil Rights Briefs Congressional Leaders On Conditions Faced By Haitian Families At U.S.-Mexico Border

Closed-Door Briefing Follows LCR’s Civil Rights Complaint and Fact-Finding Mission to the Border

At a closed-door briefing of the Haiti Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) briefed Congressional leaders on the conditions faced by Haitian families at the U.S.-Mexico border. The briefing was organized under the leadership of Representative Ayanna Pressley.

At the Congressional briefing, LCR Attorney Arielle Sharma described for Caucus Members the deplorable conditions in which Black families fleeing Haiti are being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. In a recent civil rights complaint filed on behalf of Haitian-Americans United, LCR detailed how federal officials have:

  • placed Black Haitian immigrants at life-threatening risk of COVID-19 in overcrowded detention conditions; 
  • failed to provide adequate medical care — including to pregnant women, leading to at least one miscarriage; and
  • required families and children to subsist on daily rations of bread and apples. 

LCR’s federal complaint asks for an immediate federal investigation of these unlawful and abominable conditions and for systemic reforms to guard against future civil rights abuses.  

At the briefing, Attorney Sharma also discussed the urgent need for the federal government to provide immediate immigration protection to families and individuals fleeing Haiti through Temporary Protected Status (TPS), humanitarian relief, parole-in-place or deferred action. 

The Congressional briefing took place on the heels of LCR’s fact-finding mission to the U.S.-Mexico border. After spending dozens of hours documenting border conditions, LCR’s delegation confirmed that the refugee crisis is having a devastating impact on the ground on both sides of the border. LCR’s observations are consistent with what Haitian refugees and other asylum-seekers reported after being released from U.S. custody. 

In recent years, Haiti has been plagued by natural disasters, mass kidnappings, food insecurity, and political violence causing families and individuals to flee. The Boston metropolitan area is home to the third largest Haitian community in the United States.