To contact our media team, please email email@example.com with [Media] in the subject line. We can facilitate country-expert interviews as well as interviews with directly impacted migrants in some cases.
Taisha Saintil, Haitian Bridge Alliance, firstname.lastname@example.orgBlaine Bookey, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, email@example.com | (415) 703-8202Anthony Enriquez, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, firstname.lastname@example.org | (917) 941-9141Carolyn Tran, Communities United for Status and Protection, email@example.com | (415) 377-4711
November 10, 2022 – The Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) led a delegation of human rights defenders—composed of thirteen representatives from HBA, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Panamanian advocates —to Panama from October 21 through October 29, 2022, to investigate the migration process and reception and treatment of people seeking refuge. The delegation traveled across the country, observing migrant reception centers in Panama’s Darién Province along the southern border with Colombia and in Panama’s Chiriquí Province along its northern border with Costa Rica. In these regions and in Panama City, the delegation spoke with dozens of refugees and met with government officials, civil society representatives, and international organizations.
“Given this spiraling situation in Haiti, many Haitians may be harmed or even killed if they stay in Haiti. They are forced to migrate in search of safety, often making this long and dangerous journey through the Americas to the U.S. Mexico border, where they hope to seek protection and join their family in the United States,” says Guerline Jozef, co-founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. “Instead of receiving access to their right of protection, many Haitian asylum seekers along the border are dying of violence and medical neglect as they wait for months and even years for the chance to enter the United States – blocked by Title 42 policies that have closed the border to asylum seekers since March 2020.”
The delegation will release a report on its findings as part of a push for a comprehensive assessment of the human impacts of States’ migration policy in the Americas and State compliance with commitments made in the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. The delegation was first organized in response to reports the organizations received from Haitian migrants of violence and a lack of protection in Panama’s Darién Gap, including gruesome stories of sexual and gender-based violence. The investigation also sought to understand the key role Panama’s Darién Gap plays for people in migration through the Americas and to document the human impacts of the United States and other States’ immigration policies on people exercising their right to human mobility and seeking protection throughout the region and (non)access to justice where their rights are violated. Along with meeting and interviewing Haitians in migration, the delegation spoke with people in mobility from Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and Africa, and witnessed the cruelty inflicted by the United States October 12 policy change towards Venezuelan refugees.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENovember 4, 2022
CONTACTTaisha Saintil, firstname.lastname@example.orgEmily Morris, email@example.com, 213-457-7458
WASHINGTON — Haitian Bridge Alliance, the National Immigration Law Center, and over 280 civil and human rights organizations sent a letter calling on President Biden to protect Haitian asylum seekers. The administration must not send Haitians seeking safety back to Haiti, third countries, or detain them in Guantánamo Bay.
The letter, published today by the Haitian Bridge Alliance and NILC, outlines the United States’ pattern of disparate and discriminatory treatment towards Haitian refugees seeking protection and the prior human rights abuses that Haitians previously suffered from while detained at Guantánamo Bay. The letter also details concrete steps the Biden administration can take to protect Haitian asylum seekers, uphold human rights, and follow through on commitments to advance racial equity.
“It is past time for the United States, and the Biden administration, to pursue these rights-respecting actions, and end the pattern of discriminatory and disparate treatment inflicted on Haitians seeking U.S. protection,” the letter states. “During your administration, Haitians have been met with summary push-backs at the hands of the U.S. Coast Guard. People have died and continue to die at sea while seeking protection at U.S. shores. Rather than protecting them, the United States further victimizes these individuals by returning them to danger.”
The letter continues, “Your administration has the power to turn the page on these harmful and discriminatory policies. We urge you to do right by Haitian people seeking protection, whether by land or at sea, to live up to our humanitarian obligations, and build an equitable humanitarian protection system that welcomes those seeking refuge.”
A PDF of the full letter and signatories can be found here.
San Diego, California, August 31, 2022 – On International Day for People of African Descent, the Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) honored the contributions of Toussaint Louverture, the leader of Haiti’s revolution that ended slavery and started the fight for Black liberation, and calls on all people and organizations to use every forum available to advance the human rights of people of African descent.
On August 18, 2022, Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance visited and honored the gravesite of Toussaint Louverture in Fort de Joux, France. She stood in Mr. Louverture’s prison cell in Château de Joux where Mr. Louverture was imprisoned after he led the successful revolutionary war against France, and she contemplated his life and legacy.
Before traveling to Fort de Joux and Mr. Louverture’s final resting place, Ms. Jozef had presented and advocated before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva, Switzerland. HBA led a coalition report to the CERD about the U.S. laws, policies, and practices that result in racist and xenophobic treatment against Black non-citizens—migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
In addition to the CERD report in July 2022, HBA has been focusing more on international accountability mechanisms, including a report in August 2021 to the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism and Xenophobia, a report in January 2022 to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, where it then spoke up on behalf of Black people and others being subject to rights violations and sexual and gender-based violence in Panama’s Darien Gap.
The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Human Rights First (HRF), The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK Human Rights) co-authored the report to CERD, and both BAJI and RFK Human Rights presented before CERD. The report and advocacy were endorsed by the Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP) and Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). On Tuesday, the Committee issued Concluding Observations that took up many of the concerns and recommendations that this coalition raised to it.
“HBA continues to fight for Mr. Louverture’s legacy every day through our work with Black migrants stuck along the U.S.-Mexico border or locked in immigrant detention centers, and we know many great people and organizations do the same,” said Ms. Jozef. “It is up to us, with the knowledge we gain through this work, to ensure that global governance systems know the truth about what is happening to Black people and to assert our inalienable human rights in the face of States that trample upon them–just like Toussaint Louverture and our ancestors did before us. We ask for all willing to join us in making the record on the international stage about State abuses to use the international human rights governance and monitoring structure to ensure States fulfill their duties to Black people and other groups harmed by the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonial imperialism.”
“As someone who has lived through all the issues that Black people face in the Americas through my own journey to the States,” said Daniel Tse, HBA staff member and founder of the Cameroonian Advocacy Network. “It is powerful to see these issues addressed on the international stage and to see the clear calls for accountability for State abuses against People of African Descent.”
“Though it can be hard to see sometimes, the struggles of People of African Descent all across the world are interconnected,” said Erik Crew, the Staff Attorney at the Haitian Bridge Alliance who has spearheaded HBA’s international advocacy. “My African ancestors came up through slavery in the United States, and people helping them when they were fleeing State-sanctioned violence in the South is one of the reasons I am here today. We honor them and those that stepped up to help them every day with our work at HBA.”
The Bridge celebrates this collaboration and is inspired by the heroes of the Haitian Revolution, who had to find ways to make bonds and forge alliances out of African nations that had been thrown together as a monolith in slavery, speaking different languages, practicing different religions, having different customs, but who could unite to be the first to end slavery in the Americas.
Geneva, Switzerland, August 8 2022 – Today, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Human Rights First, The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services submitted a Shadow Report to the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) during its 107th session, denouncing anti-Black discrimination against non-citizens and ongoing violations of international protections for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers of African descent in and at the border of the United States. The report was also endorsed by Communities United for Status and Protection and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.
The report argues that the US immigration and refugee laws, regulations, policies and practices are in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The link to the full report can be found here.
Guerline Jozef, Founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, shared the following from Geneva:
“I will never forget the horrors I witnessed the United States commit against Black toddlers in Del Rio, Texas. The viral photo of the officer on horseback chasing and whipping a Black man getting his family food is only the tip of the iceberg: It is the product of a systemically racist approach to treating Black women, men, children—even babies—with cruelty. We submit this report alongside our partners in an effort to document these atrocities and demand the United States do all withing its reach to fully rescind Title 42, do a complete wind down of the Migrant Protection Protocols, and treat people with basic human dignity.”
San Diego, California, July 7, 2022 – A year ago today, we woke in shock to the terrible news of the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse. As writer Edwidge Danticat states, “A year after Moïse’s assassination, his murder remains unsolved, like those of so many other Haitians before and since.” Many close to Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s government are suspected of being involved in the assassination, including Mr. Henry himself.
Meanwhile, gangs are brutalizing Haitians with kidnappings, sexual assault, arson, and mass kidnappings, rendering Haiti uninhabitable for many. Entire neighborhoods such as Martissant have been internally displaced and forced to flee, while the U.S. government is fumbling any chance at a sustainable Haitian-led solution to the crisis by supporting Henry.
“Given this spiraling situation in Haiti, many Haitians may be harmed or even killed if they stay in Haiti. They are forced to migrate to ‘CHECHE LAVI’ in search of safety, often making the long and dangerous journey through the Americas to the U.S. Mexico border, where they hope to seek protection and join their family in the United States,” says Guerline Jozef, co-founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. “Instead, many Haitian migrants along the border are dying of violence and medical neglect as they wait for months and even years for the chance to enter the United States – blocked by Title 42 policies that have closed the border to asylum seekers since March 2020.”
In Tijuana, Mexico, Haitian Bridge Alliance spoke with family members of those who have died this year, including the father of 18-year-old “J.L.” who spent two days in the hospital with stomach pains but was released with little more than prescriptions for medications. Three days later she died of medical neglect; she should never have been released from the hospital. “C.A.” died a few days after he was released from the hospital and told to come back another day despite feeling ill. An ambulance took him to the morgue ostensibly for an autopsy, but when his brother picked up his body, he had been disfigured, cut up, and mutilated – a likely victim of organ trafficking in the Mexican state-run morgue. 35-year-old “A.J.” was robbed and severely beaten outside a bank, and died several days later after a hospital refused to treat him. (For more stories like these, please see the Seven Case Profiles of Medical Neglect and Violence Against Haitian Migrants in Tijuana attached below)
“The Haitian Bridge Alliance primarily consists of directly-impacted individuals that work with the community that they represent. These stories of abuse are personal and painful to us. I’m tired of having to bury my brothers and sisters who die off the shores of Puerto Rico, in Panama’s Darien Gap, or at the U.S. Mexico border,” said Ms. Jozef. “Given President’s Biden campaign promises to immigrants, we demand that he reinstate safe access to asylum protection. It’s time for the Biden-Harris administration to recommit to ending cruel policies such as Title 42, MPP, and Operation Lone Star, which force people fleeing danger to wait for months or years in peril at the border or put them in the hands of smugglers and traffickers. At the same time, the U.S. government must address the root causes of Haitian migration and commit to real, strategic, and sustainable Haitian-led solutions so Haitians may thrive at home.
“This is the life of migrants here, we are treated like animals”
San Diego, California, July 7, 2022 – As we hear stories of migrants all around the world suffering from neglect and abuse, leading to much pain and suffering and sometimes death, Haitian Bridge Alliance mourns those Haitian men and women who died so far this year in Tijuana, Mexico. We mourn alongside the five families for whom we organized the funerals for their loved ones and for the others that we accompanied on their journey, and for all those who lost their lives unbeknownst to us in Mexico. We also mourn the countless lives lost at sea, including the forty Haitians who died off the coast of Puerto Rico in May 2022, for whom we have only been able to recover eleven bodies.
Below are profiles of seven tragic deaths in Tijuana. From medical negligence to targeted violence, their lives will not be forgotten in their tragic journey from Haiti to foreign lands in the hopes of reaching safety in the United States.
And then there are those Haitians who were victims of outright violence in Mexico.
This is the fate of more and more Haitian men, women, and children at the border in Mexico. A.J.’s friend summarizes the reality that Haitians face on their journey to the United States, “It is frightening because the same type of violence that we are leaving our country for is the same violence we are finding on our path to what we imagined was comfort.”
Yet, we as Haitians, as we have always done, will continue to fight for what is right, as attested by C.A.’s sister’s vow: “We are poor now, but when God gives me the opportunity, I will find out what happened to my brother’s organs so that it may never happen again.”
San Diego, California, June 29, 2022 — Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) mourns with the survivors and families of migrants who lost their lives in San Antonio on June 27, as they sought safety and protection in the United States. “My heart is heavy as we grieve the loss of precious lives, but I am also angry,” said Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. “These vulnerable people seeking refuge died because the United States continues to impose barriers to people in search of protection, creating a system for smugglers and traffickers to thrive, rather than protecting these vulnerable people at our border. We must come together and make sure that the U.S. government ends its cruel, inhumane and ineffective deterrence policies and restores access to asylum so people don’t fall prey to smugglers and human traffickers.”
HBA also mourns the death and torture of as many as 37 African migrants attempting to cross from Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Melilla on June 24. Shocking videos circulated of hundreds of young Black men piled on top of each other on the ground like corpses (unclear who was dead or alive), while Spanish law enforcement beat them with batons. The abuse of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers is a global atrocity and must be stopped.
Ms. Jozef, “The tragic death of the migrants in San Antonio and Morocco, as well as the 42 young Haitians including eleven women who lost their lives off the coast of Puerto Rico, is a painful reminder of the violence against the 15,000 Haitian and other asylum seekers who tried to seek protection in Del Rio, Texas last September and were met with armed resistance by the U.S. We witnessed people die from lack of access to water, food, and medical care. Almost one year later, and despite President Biden and Vice President Harris’s promises of accountability, no one has received justice. This war against migrants must stop. We implore President Biden to reinstate safe access to asylum protection. It’s time to end Title 42, MMP, Operation Lone Star, and to stop putting people fleeing danger in the hands of smugglers and traffickers.”