USA: Torture and other ill-treatment of Haitian asylum seekers is rooted in anti-Black racism


[Joaquín Castro]

US authorities have subjected Haitian asylum seekers to arbitrary detention and discriminatory and humiliating ill-treatment that amounts to race-based torture, said Amnesty International today in the new report, ‘They Did Not Treat Us Like People’: Race and Migration-Related Torture and Other Ill-Treatment of Haitians Seeking Safety in the USA.


These human rights violations, along with mass expulsions under Title 42, are the latest chapter in a long history of detention, exclusion, and the practice of trying to deter Haitians seeking safety in the United States, rooted in systemic anti-Black discrimination.


“One year ago, the Biden administration condemned the shameful scenes of mounted Border Patrol agents violently dispersing Haitian asylum seekers in Del Rio, Texas. Despite this, US authorities have continued to restrict their right to seek international protection at the US-Mexico border,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.


“They have also continued to evoke the evils of slavery by shackling and handcuffing Black Haitians onboard expulsion flights, inflicting further pain and mental suffering upon them that amounts to torture under international human rights law. Our research provides ample evidence that systemic racism is embedded within the US immigration system, as described by Haitian asylum seekers interviewed for this report.”


The report shows that successive US administrations have tried to deter Haitian people from claiming asylum in the United States through the application of various policies designed to intercept, detain, and remove them, starting in the 1970s and continuing with Title 42.

"One year ago, the Biden administration condemned the shameful scenes of mounted Border Patrol agents violently dispersing Haitian asylum seekers in Del Rio, Texas. Despite this, US authorities have continued to restrict their right to seek international protection at the US-Mexico border." -Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

Nicole Phillips, legal director at Haitian Bridge Alliance, an organization that has been at the forefront of highlighting the mistreatment of Haitians by US authorities said: “Last September the world watched in horror as photos went viral of a mounted Border Patrol officer using his reins to whip at Mirard Joseph, one of about 15,000 Haitian people seeking protection in Del Rio, Texas. As appalling as the incident was, it was the tip of the iceberg of decades of mistreatment to deter Haitians from seeking safety in the United States. We hope the recommendations in this report will spark a dialogue among US authorities to dismantle the race-based discrimination and torture that Haitians and other Black migrants often face in the US immigration system.” </