Our Voices

Partner, HRA Laureate Jozef addresses U.N. about human rights abuses to Black migrants

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Human Rights Award laureate Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, addressed the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, one of the few international human rights treaties the country has signed on to.

A key partner, Jozef presented evidence of human rights abuses committed against Black migrants and responded to the July 2022 Del Rio internal investigation report from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which did not capture the whole story of what took place.

Below are her remarks, which have been edited for brevity:

“First, I would like to have a moment of silence to acknowledge the lives lost during the journey – at the Darien gap, at the US-Mexico border, at sea – while trying to find safety in the US and in Europe.

We want to thank the Representative of the Secretariat, Wan-Hea Lee for her acknowledgment of the various human rights issues impacting our immigrant communities worldwide, exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic, including pushbacks, and collective expulsions, criminalization, and non-refoulement.

My name is Guerline Jozef, I am the Executive Director and co-founder of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. Haitian Bridge Alliance, the only Black-led organization based at the US-Mexico border, provides legal and humanitarian services to thousands of Black migrants a year. I came to this work in 2015 after I received a call from someone who told me that we have Haitians at the border, since you are Haitian come take care of your people. I also co-founded the only Black Immigrants Bond Fund and the Cameroon Advocacy Network.

Our statement today is on behalf of a coalition of organizations, including Human Rights First, RAICES, BAJI, Communities United for Status and Protection and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and is endorsed by many organizations.

The US has implemented a series of policies at its borders that disparately impact and violate the human rights of non-white asylum seekers, particularly individuals from Black-majority countries such as Haiti.

Local, state, and federal officials have repeatedly used the rhetoric of the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory to characterize non-citizens at the US-Mexico border, describing the arrival of Haitians as an “invasion.”

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. The image captured international media attention as a stark callback to the US’s legacy of slavery and racism.

Mr. Joseph was one of at least 15,000 asylum seekers, overwhelmingly Haitians, held by US immigration in an encampment at the Del Rio, Texas border. 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 was 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 breastfeeding women, and expelled back to Haiti under the Title 42 policy without the opportunity to seek asylum protection.

Since March 2020, the start of the Covid pandemic, the US has used the Title 42 policy as a false public health pretext to block asylum at US ports of entry and to expel migrants and asylum seekers to Mexico or their countries of persecution without access to the US asylum system or refugee protection screenings.

​As a result of Title 42, which has blocked entry to the border, as well as policies such as “metering,” and the Migrant Protection Protocols (“Remain in Mexico”), the US has forced asylum seekers to await entry and US immigration court proceedings in cartel-controlled border regions of Mexico, where they are subjected to extortion, kidnapping, rape, murder, and trafficking.

Between March and May 2022, the US allowed entry for 99% of the 23,000 Ukrainians who arrived at the US border. Less than 1 percent were subjected to Title 42, yet Title 42 remains in place for Black and brown asylum seekers.


  • Take all available steps to restore access to asylum at the border and halt all expulsions under Title 42.

  • Allow migrants crossing the border to make their claims for asylum and other protections, and ensure access to effective legal representation and interpretation.

  • Stop all expulsions and deportations to Haiti, Cameroon, and other countries facing extraordinary circumstances of violence, where return would put their nationals at serious risk of harm, in violation of non-refoulement.

  • Undertake a systemic review of asylum and immigration policies, including all detention, interdiction, and interception policies to identify and rescind policies that are perpetuating racial discrimination towards Black people.