By Deanna Watson | Lafayette Journal & Courier
September 23, 2021
A collection of faith leaders across Indiana on Thursday urged President Joe Biden to halt deportations to Haiti, after video footage released this week allegedly showed U.S. border agents intimidating and mistreating Haitian migrants seeking asylum.
The United States began deporting migrants gathered along the southern border Sunday.
The Associated Press reported that six flights included 713 migrants headed back to Haiti.
A camp in Texas held as many as 14,000 people, including women and children.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, visiting Del Rio on Tuesday, said a county official told him the most recent tally estimated 8,600 migrants in the camp, the AP reported.
Even as reports that migrants have been released into the United States, namely El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, faith leaders decried recent immigration policies as “unacceptable.”
“President Biden and Democrats in Congress were elected to office thanks in large part to the efforts of Black and brown leaders across the nation,” said Faith in Indiana immigrant leader Bethy Puerto, in a release to the Journal & Courier.
“Turning their backs our most vulnerable — Hatian families seeking refuge — and failing to live up to promises to build a pathway to citizenship and a society where all of us are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of the color of our skin or nation of origin — is unacceptable.”
Just who is being deported and who is being transported to other U.S. cities isn’t exactly clear, but the AP reported the selection process for deportation flights seems to involve single adults. The administration is more likely to release vulnerable individuals, such as pregnant women, families with young children and those with medical issues.
Unaccompanied children have been excluded from deportation flights, the AP added.
Indiana faith leaders point to recent humanitarian crises, including a recent earthquake and the assassination of their president, as reason enough to halt deportation.
“The Haitians who are fleeing to our borders are in deep trouble. They are victims of a hurricane, on top of an earthquake, on top of political turmoil,” said Nancy Myers, chairwoman of the mission group at Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend. “They are our neighbors. It is unconscionable to respond to Haitian pleas for help with abuse and ridicule.”
It’s estimated that in Haiti about 60 percent of its 11 million people earn less than $2 a day, according to the AP.
The Biden Administration cited a Trump-era policy, Title 42 order, put in place in the COVID-19 pandemic to justify swift deportations.
“Migrants attempting or considering making the journey to our border should know that we are still enforcing Title 42 order,” Chief Border Patrol Officer Raul Ortiz said, in USA Today reporting. “They will not be allowed to enter the United States. They will be removed and they will be sent back to their country of origin. Our partners in the State Department are working to ensure there is adequate support when they land in Haiti.”
Faith in Indiana describes itself as a organization focusing on marginalized people and faith communities, seeking racial and economic justice in Indiana. Faith in Indiana is not aligned with any candidate or party.