In September 2021, a photo went viral of Mirard Joseph, a Haitian asylum seeker who was being chased and lashed at by an armed border patrol officer on horseback at the border.
Mr. Joseph was one of at least 15,000 asylum seekers, overwhelmingly Haitians, held by US immigration in an encampment at the border in Del Rio, Texas. They were exposed to verbal threats, intimidation, medical neglect, extreme hunger and thirst, lack of beds or any sleeping materials, and desert heat.
When he was assaulted by border patrol, Mr. Joseph had left the encampment to get food and water back for his family who were starving.
Most of these 15,000 migrants either fled back to Mexico out of fear, or were then taken into custody, chained at their wrists, waist and feet, including pregnant and breast-feeding women, and expelled back to Haiti under the Title 42 policy without the opportunity to seek asylum protection.
HBA was the only Black- and Haitian-led organization on the ground throughout the Del Rio emergency, where we witnessed unspeakable atrocities. In response we:
HBA v. Biden is a Class Action Lawsuit to demand accountability for thousands of families who were denied their basic rights and treated horrifically under the Del Rio bridge in Texas under the unlawful and racist Title 42 policy. Alongside Justice Action Center and Innovation Law Lab, we are suing the Biden administration.
The plaintiffs are eleven Haitian asylum seekers who were victims of U.S. officials’ abusive treatment in the CBP Encampment and expelled without an opportunity to access the U.S. asylum system. We demand an end to Biden Administration’s harmful, discriminatory, and unlawful policies.
The link to the lawsuit filing is here and the transcript from our press conference about the lawsuit can be found here.
“What we saw in Del Rio is not lost on our community. The United States has a long history of anti-Black racism. The immigration system is rooted anti-Black racism. The immigration prison system is rooted and built on the back of Haitian migrants, Haitian asylum seekers and refugees, so today, we stand with those asylum seekers and those people who were under the bridge, those who have been erased, disappeared, deported, expelled without any access to dignity, compassion or care.”