Lawmakers express alarm over resumption of deportation flights to Haiti that U.S. had suspended

Letter (PDF)

Washington (May 15, 2024) - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), along with House Haiti Caucus Co-Chairs Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), today wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to halt all deportations, repatriations, and returns from the United States to Haiti as the country continues to face a political and humanitarian crisis.

Haiti remains in a state of extreme turmoil, with armed gangs terrorizing its population and causing the shutdown of critical infrastructure. Haiti’s citizens face extraordinary threats of violence, fear for their lives, and endure daily hardships as a new government struggles to regain control of the country. According to remarks by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, gangs control 80 percent of the capital — Port-au-Prince — and armed groups use sexual assault and rape to terrorize the population. He also said that the violence has also had the effect of blocking trade and aid routes, and shuttered schools. Yet despite this state of affairs, the United States recently resumed deportation flights to Haiti.

In their letter, the lawmakers wrote, “We recognize that individuals who may not legally reside in the United States must eventually return to their countries of origin. But conditions in Haiti at this time are so extreme that any deportation likely places a returned person at risk of significant harm. While a new Haitian government seeks to reassert control over the country, the United States should not forcibly return those who fear for their safety.”

Cosigners also include Senators Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D- N.J.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02).

In March 2024, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation, sent a letter to Secretary Blinken and Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Rena Bitter, urging them to expedite the processing of immigrant visas for Haitians — particularly for relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. In December 2023, Senator Markey and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) sent a letter to President Biden calling on the Administration to address the rising state of insecurity and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti. In October 2022, Senator Markey led a letter to urge the Biden administration to extend and redesignate TPS for Haitians living in the United States, a request that was granted in December 2022.