Human rights groups support United Nations in confronting U.S. government on racially discriminatory immigration policies

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 12, 2022 – Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights applaud the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for asking poignant and demanding questions to the U.S. government about its racially discriminatory immigration practices, particularly those impacting non-citizens of African descent. On August 11 and August 12, the CERD committee evaluated the U.S. government’s compliance with its obligation to adopt measures to eliminate racial discrimination under international human rights law.

Referencing a well-documented history of suffering and human rights abuses at the U.S.-Mexico border and in immigration detention centers throughout the country, CERD committee members asked the U.S. delegation about concrete measures taken to guarantee free and effective access to asylum. The Committee also questioned U.S. efforts to eliminate racially-biased detention practices and laws that particularly harm Black immigrants when compared to other racial groups, keeping them detained for longer periods of time and subjecting them to harsher treatment in immigration detention, including the highest rates of solitary confinement and other forms of torture.

UN representatives also raised questions regarding excessive use of force by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) against Haitian and Cameroonian migrants, the racially inequitable application of Title 42 exemptions (particularly when compared with Ukrainian nationals), the systemic targeting of Black immigrants for collective expulsions without access to humanitarian protection, and the devastating impact of the 287(g) program, which relies on racist state and local criminal legal policing to impose the harshest federal immigration penalties.

CERD members also asked the US delegation to address the issues of racial profiling, high and inconsistent immigration bonds, and the collateral impacts of racialized criminalization that disproportionately impact migrants of African descent due to the anti-Black racism and implicit bias of local law enforcement, ICE, and CBP.

Supported by reports and evidence gathered over the course of years, the human rights groups urged CERD officials to ask hard-hitting questions to US delegates at the review.

“As documented in our report on the violent expulsion of Haitian immigrants that took place at the Del Rio border last year, there is an obvious double standard applied to Black asylum seekers versus their white counterparts,” said Anthony Enriquez, Vice President of U.S. Advocacy and Litigation at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “The CERD review demanded real accountability from the US for these and other abuses against Black immigrants. And it made clear that racial discrimination in our immigration system is a systemic issue that requires a systemic overhaul.”

“We are pleased with the CERD interventions on various systemic patterns of discrimination and erasure of people of Indigenous and African descent. Too often, their realities, particularly those of Black migrants, are either overlooked or nonexistent,” said Guerline Jozef, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. “We are looking forward to the Committee’s conclusions and will continue to advocate and hold the United States accountable to their international and domestic obligations.”

“One the eve of yet another deportation flight to Haiti, the CERD committee expressed concern to the U.S. for targeting people of African descent for collective expulsions, as well as categorically approving Title 42 exemptions for Ukraine nationals but not for others fleeing conflict,” said Nicole Phillips, Legal Director at Haitian Bridge Alliance. “We are encouraged by the CERD Committee’s sharp and timely concerns and questions, and we look forward to the Committee’s forthcoming concluding observations.”

Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, expressed hope that the “Committee follows up with the US delegation’s lack of transparency regarding their police-to-deportation pipeline. It is well documented that 76 percent of Black migrants are deported on criminal grounds compared to 45 percent of the immigrant population overall,” says If you are from the Caribbean, it goes up to an average of 83 percent. The U.S. continues to implement and promote enforcement priorities and relationships with local law enforcement agencies that openly flaunt its obligations under the CERD convention.”

CERD is one of the few UN treaties the U.S. has ratified, but the U.S. has failed to adopt legislation allowing several of the treaty’s provisions to have domestic legal effects. This U.S. review of compliance with CERD represents one of the only opportunities on the international stage to encourage U.S. legal culture and norms to align with international human rights law.

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About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights:

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues— championing change makers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook: @RFKHumanRights

About Haitian Bridge Alliance:

Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), also known as “the Bridge,” is a grassroots community organization that advocates for fair and humane immigration policies and provides migrants and immigrants with humanitarian, legal, and social services, with a particular focus on Black migrants, the Haitian community, women and girls, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and survivors of torture and other human rights abuses. HBA also seeks to elevate the issues unique to Black migrants and build solidarity and collective movement toward policy change. Anpil men, chay pa lou (“Many hands make the load light”). Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: @haitianbridge

About Black Alliance for Just Immigration:

Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) is a US-based national organization that fights for the rights of African American and Black migrants through organizing, legal advocacy, research, policy, and narrative building to improve the conditions of Black communities by advancing racial justice and migrant rights. Follow us on social media: @instabaji @bajitweet