Diaspora

ICE is blocking Haitian asylum-seekers from accessing legal groups: 'It's racist, it's wrong' – Daily Kos

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have refused to allow Haitian asylum-seekers detained at a New Mexico detention facility access to legal services that could determine their futures in the U.S., a number of advocacy groups say. They believe at least 45 Haitians have been detained at Torrance County Detention Facility since the end of September.
“In addition to ICE’s denial of their access to legal support, local groups have observed court dockets for Black migrants from Haiti moving disproportionately fast, leading to unfair, rapid deportation orders,” groups continued.
This racist targeting is not isolated. In Florida last month, Black immigrants said that officials were selecting only non-Black immigrants for release as part of pandemic measures.
“Haitian detainees describe poor food, inadequate medical care, and mistreatment, common to Torrance and ICE detention centers nationwide, as well as insufficient access to information in Haitian Kreyol, which together amount to racist discrimination and violate even ICE’s own standards,” attorney Allegra Love, Innovation Law Lab, National Immigration Project, Haitian Bridge Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, and the American Immigration Council said.
Among them is a 25-year-old who expressed fear about being returned to Haiti by officials. “If I don’t have an attorney, I think that they can deport me,” he said. He did not share his name out of fear of retaliation. “I don’t know what asylum is. I wasn’t allowed to speak. Nobody explained anything and they just told me I was supposed to have an attorney.” Advocates are willing, able, and ready to aid Haitian migrants in detention, but ICE is blocking them.
“For the last 42 days I have been begging ICE to provide us with information and access to the Haitian men detained at Torrance so we can provide them with critical pro-bono legal assistance and meeting resistance each step of the way,” Love said in the statement. “ICE is doing everything it can to deport these Haitian men without any semblance of due process. It’s racist, it’s wrong, and I am fed up with it.”
Advocates have issued a letter to ICE with a number of demands, including being provided with a list of all Haitian migrants detained at Torrance, access to these men, that pro bono legal support information in Haitian Kreyol be provided to these men, and that officials not deport anyone until they’ve been able to consult with someone.
“It is unconscionable for ICE to block access to legal counsel for these Haitian asylum seekers who have already suffered horrific treatment at the hands of the U.S. government just for seeking protection from harm,” ACLU of New Mexico staff attorney Rebecca Sheff said. “By rushing their cases the government seems determined to deport these men to Haiti, where they face abuse and potentially even death, without due process and in some instances before they have even had a chance to talk to an attorney or submit their asylum application.”
Advocates said many of the Haitian migrants at Torrance were detained at or near Del Rio, Texas. Advocates last month also filed a civil rights complaint about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers at the hand of officials, saying families were denied access to basics including water, food, and blankets. In detention, the complaint said individuals were then deprived of medical attention, leading to at least one miscarriage. One woman, Marjory, told detention officials of her pregnancy and requested medical attention, she was “blatantly ignored,” the complaint said. “Days later she suffered a miscarriage.” 
“The federal government confined Black families fleeing from Haiti in inhumane and life-threatening conditions for an unnecessarily and excessively long period of time,” said Lawyers for Civil Rights Staff Attorney Arielle Sharma. “These families came to the U.S. to seek safety, but instead were met with further despair.”

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