Black Families Fleeing Haiti File Civil Rights Complaint Demanding Federal Investigation of Inhumane
Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Lack Of Medical Care Leading To Miscarriage, Children Given Only Daily Rations Of Bread And Apples, Overcrowded Conditions.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2021
BOSTON — Today, Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) filed a complaint on behalf of Haitian-Americans United (HAU) and its members, including 48 individuals who fled life-threatening conditions in Haiti, and who survived unconscionable mistreatment under the custody of federal officials at the U.S. border. The complaint was filed today with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the agency’s Inspector General demanding an immediate investigation into the heinous actions perpetrated by federal officials at the border.
The complaint outlines alarming facts about the lived experiences of Black Haitian families under DHS custody at the border:
Families were detained in overcrowded conditions that threatened their health and wellbeing, particularly in light of COVID-19.
Families were denied access to medical care and treatment. Even pregnant women and children experiencing illness were deprived of medical assistance. This led to at least one miscarriage.
While confined in an outdoor “camp” — under a bridge near Del Rio, Texas — families were denied access to food, water, hygiene products, sanitation, and protection from the elements. Families were deprived of blankets — or any protection from the ground — at the makeshift “camp.”
Even after being transferred by DHS from the “camp” to detention facilities, many families — including those with infant children — were deprived of adequate food and water. They were given only apples or a slice of bread to share for days. Over the course of multiple days in detention facilities, families had no access to showers, hygiene products, blankets, or beds. Many slept without any covers on concrete floors.
Families were also denied access to Haitian Creole translators or interpreters.
Haitian families were confined by DHS for up to 10 days under the bridge near Del Rio, Texas. Once transferred to detention facilities, Haitian families were confined for up to 49 days before being released.
In light of DHS’s systemic abuse, HAU demands:
An immediate DHS and Inspector General investigation into how racial animus and national origin discrimination produced the unlawful detention conditions at the border. The investigation must include a racial audit and an assessment of how long white immigrants are detained by DHS before they are released compared with Black immigrants.
Policy changes to ensure that Black immigrants from Haiti are treated in a lawful manner. This includes a specific timeline for improved access to food, shelter, medical care, and hygiene along with the immediate reduction of overcrowded conditions that place families at imminent risk of life-threatening COVID-19 infection, illness, and death. DHS must also ensure that Haitian Creole translators and interpreters are available to effectively communicate with people arriving at the border.
Pastor Dieufort FLeurissaint, AKA: KEKE,
from the HAU (Haitian American United.