More than 100 congressional Democrats have urged President Joe Biden in a recent letter to review the “disparate treatment of Black migrants” throughout the immigration system and end the public health order that allows authorities to turn away migrants encountered at the US southern border.
“It is time to undo the United States’ draconian immigration policies, particularly policies introduced under the Trump Administration, such as the use of Title 42, that circumvent our humanitarian obligations,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter addressed to Biden on Wednesday. “In addition to stopping removals to regions such as Haiti that face serious insecurity, we also urge you to take steps to address the systemic challenges Black migrants face to receiving equal treatment.”
Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey led the initiative, joining 13 of their colleagues in the Senate, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and 88 House members in signing the letter.
The lawmakers cited images from September of US Border Patrol agents on horseback swinging long reins near Haitian migrants who had crossed the border near Del Rio, Texas. They argued that due to politics, climate and its economy, Haiti “cannot safely accept the repatriation of its nationals.”
The letter also underscored recent frustrations with the Biden administration over the Title 42 public health order, which was invoked by the Trump administration at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and has continued to be used by the Biden administration. Title 42 was recently extended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the lawmakers alleged that the policy deprives “legitimate asylum seekers the opportunity to pursue their claims.”
CNN has reached out to the White House and CDC for a comment.
Immigration advocates have urged the White House to rescind the order to no avail, arguing that it has no health basis and puts migrants in harm’s way.
“The Title 42 order has no basis in public health and the CDC is allowing itself to be used to justify mass expulsions of asylum seekers in violation of US and international refugee law to harm’s way,” Robyn Barnard, a senior advocacy counsel at Human Rights First, previously told CNN. “This policy of expelling asylum seekers is a stain on US history and it is now part of the President and Vice President’s legacy.”
The lawmakers suggest a review of the treatment of Black migrants within the US immigration system as a “starting point,” citing a “long history of inhumane treatment.”
The letter pointed to a report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and New York University School of Law’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic that found that although Black immigrants comprise 5.4% of the unauthorized population in the US, and 7.2% of the total non-citizen population, they made up 10.6% of all immigrants in removal proceedings between 2003 and 2015.
“Unfortunately, Black migrants continue to face disparate and often inhumane treatment at every stage of the immigration enforcement process,” the lawmakers wrote.