A majority of the migrants have arrived after monthslong journeys over land from Brazil and Chile, where many were granted permission to reside and work after an earthquake struck the country in 2010. The economies of those countries have been battered by the pandemic. To help repatriated Haitians who have not lived in the country for years, nonprofit organizations and some American officials will be stationed at the Port-au-Prince airport to receive migrants when they deplane, the official said.
People who have been firmly resettled in another country are not entitled to asylum in the United States, which suggests that many of the Haitians at the border would have a difficult time winning their claims for protection in the United States unless they could prove that they were experiencing violence.
However, advocates accused the United States of violating international law by expelling people without properly screening them to ascertain whether they have a reasonable claim to fear returning home. The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a question about whether that was the policy. On Saturday, hundreds had claimed fear and were not put in line for deportation, the official said.
“Part of the problem is, there are a lot of Haitians coming with a whole bunch of statuses,” said Yael Schacher, senior U.S. advocate for Refugees International, a nonprofit organization.
Still, she and others sharply criticized the United States for returning people to Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, plunged into crisis this summer by a natural disaster and the killing of its president.
“Haitians are experiencing a crisis after crisis and deserve compassion,” Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, said on Twitter on Saturday. “Instead of stepping up deportation, we should be halting it. It’s shameful that from administration to administration our cruel immigration policies remain.”
The Assassination of Haiti’s President
Recognizing the difficult conditions in Haiti, the Biden administration recently extended temporary relief from deportation to about 150,000 Haitians already living in the United States, granting them temporary protected status. But tens of thousands have tried to cross into the country since then despite not qualifying for the program, which covers those who entered by July 29, before the recent earthquake.