Mexican Authorities’ Abuse of Haitian Asylum Seekers Must Stop; U.S. Must Welcome Haitians Seeking Safety

Friday, September 3, 2021

Today CGRS joined the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign in demanding accountability from the Mexican government after Mexican agents were recorded multiple times beating and harassing Haitian families and others escaping persecution. Intimidation or abuse of people seeking safety, civil society groups serving migrants, and journalists documenting the government’s treatment of them, goes against international human rights law and basic decency. The campaign also called on the United States government to immediately halt any deportation flights to Haiti in light of the humanitarian crisis that has been compounded by the August 14th earthquake and subsequent tropical storms. 

Haitian people fleeing these conditions face brutalization and dehumanization at the hands of the asylum systems in both the U.S. and Mexico because of anti-black racism. 

“Our leaders are turning their backs on Haitians when they need us most,” said Felipe Navarro-Lux, Manager of Regional Initiatives at CGRS. “The Mexican authorities’ violent tactics, and the Biden administration’s illegal expulsion policy, endanger Haitians seeking safety and violate their human rights. These abuses are emblematic of the anti-Black racism that permeates both countries’ immigration systems, and belie hollow statements of support made by the Biden and López Obrador administrations following the August 14 earthquake. This is the time when the United States and Mexico must show they stand in solidarity with Haiti by leaving behind inhumane strategies of deterrence and treating Haitian migrants with dignity and respect.”

“Mexico should not be acting as the United States’ border wall. The excessive show of force from Mexican security forces towards families fleeing persecution in Haiti and other countries is shameful. Both Mexico and the United States should be offering people the right to seek asylum and living up to their commitment to protect refugee rights, not responding with harsh militarization. We call on Mexico and the United States to stop sending people back to harm and instead to welcome refugees with dignity and humanity,” states LAWG co-director, Daniella Burgi-Palomino.

“US and Mexican authorities are complicit in the persistent exclusion, mistreatment and abuse of Haitian migrants,” said Camilo Perez-Bustillo, Leadership Table, Witness at the Border. “These recurrent, serious human rights violations targeting Haitians have been especially notable recently amid U.S encouragement of the militarization of efforts to repress and contain migrant flows, including migrant caravans, on Mexican territory through unconscionable instances of brutality. The continued, combined use of Title 42, unjust conditions of deportation and detention, and reactivation of MPP further exacerbate these patterns, and must cease. The Haitian people and Haitian migrants are entitled to our hospitality and solidarity, now more than ever, amid a deepening humanitarian and political crisis, which cries out to all of us for an effective international response.”

“No one should suffer the harm that Haitians have suffered merely for exercising their right to seek asylum,” said Azadeh Erfani, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Immigrant Justice Center.  “It is past time for the U.S. to stop using Mexico as its proxy border control. These unlawful practices sanction the use of brutal and abusive repression of migrants and asylum seekers in order to halt their arrival to the U.S. In their collusion, the U.S. and Mexico have shown unacceptable disdain for human rights and international law. We call on the U.S. to stop exporting the assault on the right to asylum across borders, and on Mexico to end its complicity and ruthless repression.”

“The way that the Mexican government is treating Haitian and Central American migrants and refugees who are trying to leave Chiapas is illegal and inhuman,” said Gretchen Kuhner, Director of the Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI), Mexico City.  “These groups are comprised of families in search of refuge and protection – shelter, food, employment and dignified conditions for their children – in other parts of Mexico.    Many of them have pending asylum applications and have been stranded in Tapachula (near the Mexico-Guatemala border) for months or even years.   Images of people being beaten by migration agents and National Guard officers are symbolic of the racist, cruel and repressive deterrence and containment policies being implemented in the region, in which the U.S. and Mexico are closely, although asymmetrically, aligned.   Both governments know that this situation can improve by re-opening the asylum system in the U.S. and strengthening the asylum system in Mexico.”    

“We strongly condemn these disgusting and outrageous acts of violence and aggression by Mexican officials against Haitian and Central American families and individuals seeking protection. We call on the Mexican government to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for these racist and xenophobic attacks, and to publicly commit to treat all migrants and people seeking protection humanely and to respect their rights and dignity,” said Savitri Arvey, policy advisor for the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “We also renew our call on the U.S. government to halt expulsions and deportations of Haitians, especially amid a natural disaster and political turmoil in Haiti, and to stop pushing for deterrence-based approaches in negotiations with regional partners. Both the US and regional governments should reverse course and welcome with dignity.”

“It’s heartbreaking and painful to see of Mexico’s security forces violently attacking Haitians families and children — and infuriating to know this act of anti-Black racism was at some level the result of pressure the U.S. government has placed on Mexico,” said Paola Luisi, Director of Families Belong Together. “Mexico’s militarized crackdown to ‘stop all migration’ is an affront to the dignity and human rights of vulnerable refugees fleeing violence and poverty. Tragically, refugees continue to be political pawns in a game between Mexico and the United States. We must end this shameful violence and treat Haitians and all refugees with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“​​The violent and discriminatory practices carried out by Mexican immigration agents and the National Guard against Haitians have made a mockery of the Mexican government’s purported role as a human rights defender. The Mexican government must immediately cease these practices that violate human rights, guarantee the rights of all migrants and refugees, and stop serving as an extension of the United States’ border wall,” said Alejandra Macías Delgadillo, Executive Director of Asylum Access México

“It is unacceptable that Haitians have suffered such immense harm – whether by the U.S. or Mexican governments – while attempting to exercise their legal right to seek asylum,” said Robyn Barnard, Senior Advocacy Counsel, Refugee Protection, at Human Rights First. “From acts of brutality against Haitians by Mexican officials, to the Biden administration’s continued use of Title 42 that disproportionately impacts Haitian asylum seekers, anti-Black racism continues to drive both U.S. immigration policy and that of our closest partners – violating the human rights of Haitians and other Black refugees. Human Rights First strongly condemns the horrific acts of violence by Mexican officials against Haitians seeking safety, and urges the Biden administration to end Title 42, cease relying on Mexico as proxy border control, and welcome, with dignity, Haitian refugees to safety in the U.S.”