A federal judge indefinitely blocking Joe Biden‘s 100-day pause on deportations came as the president’s administration already grants Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents with way too much latitude, advocates say. Black immigrants like those from Haiti are of particular concern to immigration activists worried about their potential return to nations either mired in conflict, poverty, both or worse.
The Texas judge’s ruling came on Wednesday, but Biden’s previously announced policy that prioritizes the deportations of people who allegedly pose a threat remained in effect.
A Washington Post reporter called it “a win for Biden,” but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was among those maintaining that the interim guidance was a step backward.
“The interim enforcement priorities detailed today import the injustices of the criminal legal system and will lead to continued disproportionate deportations of Black and Brown immigrants,” Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, said in a statement.
The Biden Administration came into office on a promise that it would halt the deportation policies of prior administrations. But deportations continued with advocates raising awareness of the policies, in particular the conditions of Black immigrants.
Responding to a tweet about a Boston Globe op-ed Rep. Ayanna Pressley called the mass deportations amoral and dangerous.
Deportations of Haitians have drawn particular criticism given the current political situation in the country. Reportedly, more than 900 Haitians have been deported during Black History Month despite Biden’s expressed commitment to equity and racial justice.
Over the past few weeks, Haitians have protested the ongoing rule by the current president. Many in Haiti argue that President Jovenel Moïse’s term ended earlier this month. The country also has been vague about holding elections to fill legislative and municipal seats.
“At a time when Black immigrants are being deported, including to the lethal situation in Haiti, the Biden administration must not hesitate to put real limits on ICE,” concluded Shah.
Black lawmakers have also challenged the Biden Administration’s seeming support for Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Reps. Yvette Clarke, Gregory Meeks, and Ilhan Omar were among those calling for the U.S. to “unambiguously reject the undemocratic actions of President Moïse to retain power in Haiti.”
In a recent op-ed, Rep. Maxine Waters called Moïse’s push for a constitutional referendum unconstitutional. The California Congresswoman also challenged the recent arrest of a Haitian Supreme Court Justice, calling out the “mild reproach” of the U.S. Embassy as ineffective.
Haitian American journalist Rebecca Azor pointed to an October 2019 tweet from then-Senator and candidate Biden seemingly distancing himself from the Trump administration’s stance on a brewing crisis between the Haitian president and political opposition.
“This just goes to show Biden is just a politician,” said Azor. “His lackluster efforts which continued the mass deportation of Haitians and his recent endorsement of Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s dictatorship, shows us that Haiti’s progression is the last thing on his mind.”