Black Civil Rights Leaders to Biden: Investigate Border Patrol Attack on Haitian Asylum Seekers

Black Civil Rights Leaders to Biden: Investigate Border Patrol Attack on Haitian Asylum Seekers

September 22, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20500

Dear President Biden:

As a group of the nation’s Black leaders of civil rights, racial and social justice organizations, we are writing to express our grave concerns about the treatment of Black Haitian migrants at the US-Mexico Border. We are hard-pressed in the year 2021 to find more horrific, traumatizing and blatantly racist images than those coming out of the Del Rio area. White (and white-presenting) men on horseback with lariats are seen chasing, yelling and cursing at vulnerable Black asylum seekers who have for weeks and months been fleeing toward what they thought was safety. The actions of these Border Patrol officers are disgraceful and show an indifference to the humanity of Black migrants.

Yet, it is not only the actions of law enforcement that is disconcerting. The decision last week to begin forcing Haitians onto planes to “return them home,” the very place that they were fleeing from, is inhumane. After admitting that Haiti was indeed a place too dangerous for these immigrants to return to, as evidenced by the granting of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) in May, we would have expected a dramatically different approach to this crisis. In fact, since that time conditions in Haiti have deteriorated with the assassination of President Jovenel and the earthquake in August that killed more than 2,200 people. This crisis requires more from our nation.

Your commitment to racial equity must extend to the treatment of immigrants. As such, we urge you to stop the deportations and immediately grant humanitarian parole to the thousands of Black asylum seekers and process their asylum claims without further delay. We also urge you to launch an investigation into the acts of Border Patrol agents in Del Rio and cease and desist the treatment we witnessed, instead employing a humanitarian approach to the crisis. 

Thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter. 

Signed, 
Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
President, National Conference of Black Lawyers

Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director
Advancement Project National Office

Carlos Moore, President 
National Bar Association

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, President & Chair
National Council of Negro Women, Inc.

Damon Hewitt, President & Executive Director
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Derrick Johnson, President & CEO 
NAACP 

Marc H. Morial, President and CEO
National Urban League

Adrianne Shropshire, Executive Director
BlackPAC

Reverend Al Sharpton, President and Founder
National Action Network (NAN)

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

Melanie L. Campbell, President & CEO
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable

Taifa Smith Butler, President
Demos

Fatima Goss Graves, President & CEO
National Women’s Law Center

Reverend Alvin Herring, Executive Director
Faith in Action

Maurice Mitchell, National Director
Working Families Party

Montague Simmons, Director of Strategic Partnerships
Movement 4 Black Lives

Barbara Ransby, Historian, Author, Activist