Anti-Haitian Discrimination Taints The U.S. Immigration System

In September 2023, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment in federal district court, contesting the adequacy and reasonableness of the government’s search for records responsive to the plaintiffs’ Freedom of Information Act request. The motions remain pending before the district court.

RFKHR provided emergency legal services at Del Rio and subsequently published a comprehensive report in 2022 detailing human rights abuses inflicted upon thousands of Black immigrants.

This lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act seeks to expose the anti-Haitian discriminatory intent behind the extraordinary militarized response at Del Rio, the latest in a long history of violent anti-Haitian immigration policies employed by the U.S. government.

Why is this a key case?

From approximately September 9th to September 25th, 2021, more than 15,000 Black Haitian migrants, desperate to save their lives and the lives of their families, waited under the Del Rio International Bridge. Under triple digit Texas heat, thousands of asylum seekers sought protection in the United States from persecution and torture. Instead, they were met with shocking brutality, trapped by U.S. immigration officials in a makeshift encampment and denied access to sufficient food, water, and medical care. Many were also subjected to physical violence and intimidation.

Since then, multiple groups have repeatedly called for accountability for the actions of the U.S, government at Del Rio, including members of the U.S. Congress, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, United Nations agencies, and a number of immigrants’ and human rights’ organizations.

The U.S. government’s abuse of Haitian immigrants in Del Rio was not an isolated incident involving rogue officers. Instead, it was but one example of anti-Haitian and anti-Black bias throughout the U.S. immigration system. U.S. law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or nationality, but courts require a showing of intent to discriminate before intervening.

To seek accountability for and prevent ongoing discrimination against Haitians and other Black immigrants, this lawsuit seeks government records recording the discriminatory intent of officials responsible for authorizing and carrying out the Del Rio human rights abuses.

How is RFK Human Rights supporting?

RFK Human Rights, co-counseling with Justice Action Center, Innovation Law Lab, and Williams & Connolly LLP, represents Haitian Bridge Alliance, African Communities Together, and UndocuBlack Network in their request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and litigation in federal district court to compel the government’s compliance with FOIA.

Name of the case (as it appears in the respective legal mechanism)

Haitian Bridge Alliance et al. v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec. et al., No. 22-CV-8344 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2022)

Month/Year of filing

September 2022

Legal mechanism in which the case is being litigated

U.S. Federal District Court, Southern District of New York

Rights and legal instruments alleged violated (or found to have been violated)

Freedom of Information Act

Procedural stage



Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Justice Action Center, Innovation Law Lab, and Williams & Connolly LLP