FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 8, 2021
[CW – sexual assault and other violence]
Washington, D.C. – On International Women’s Day, the Children Thrive Action Network denounces the detention and deportation of Black immigrants, women, children, and families by the Biden administration.
Consider Marie. She, her baby, and her husband are living in hiding, after being expelled from the United States earlier this year. They first fled Haiti after Marie was kidnapped and raped. Now, they are back in the very country that could not protect them, one that is also in the throes of a political, social, and economic crisis. “I’m afraid I am going to get killed,” Marie told Buzzfeed. “It has been extremely difficult.”
According to Haddy Gassama, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the UndocuBlack Network:
Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” Decades later, this sentiment still rings true, for Black women in the interior of the country as well as Black immigrant women seeking refuge and safety in the U.S. The insidious cruelty that comes with deporting a pregnant woman or a 1 month old baby is alarming but not shocking. ICE, CBP and all other systems of policing were built on racist and anti-Black sentiments. It does not surprise us that they fail to see the humanity of a breastfeeding mother, or a child who will have to live with the trauma of memories of detention and deportation. What we do find unsettling is that the Biden-Harris administration has yet to act to stop these heinous deportations. We urge the Administration to uphold its campaign promises of racial equity and an overhaul of the immigration system, by stopping these deportations immediately.
The Trump administration started using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to carry out its racist agenda one year ago. But deportation flights to Haiti have actually increased under the Biden administration, according to Witness at the Border, with babies and children on board.
Mayra E. Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership, added: “As we look to the Biden Administration to help repair the harms of the previous administration’s attacks on immigrant families, we also look to them to lead and implement policies with resolute attention to American values of inclusion and diversity. A child’s wellbeing relies on their parents’ wellbeing. Stopping the deportation of Black immigrants and their children is a recognition of the unbearable pain and danger that Black immigrants face in their home country and a demonstration of our country’s commitment to fighting anti-black racism in all our systems and programs.”
Public health experts say this policy of expelling people without allowing them to make an asylum claim is “based on specious justifications and fails to protect public health.” It is also being used against people who are in acute physical and mental distress after a harrowing, abusive journey to what they hoped would be safety, as documented in a groundbreaking report by Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración, and Haitian Bridge Alliance.
Doctors have outlined safer alternatives to the current policy, alternatives that do not include immigration detention. A forum hosted by UndocuBlack Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and RAICES delineated painful experiences of Black pregnant women detained in U.S. immigration jails. Film producer Joyce Louis-Jean said: “Black women across the U.S. are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women. Immigration prisons intensify systemic anti-black racism, with heart-breaking consequences.”
Said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO of MomsRising: “On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the contributions of immigrant women from around the world and call on the Biden administration to immediately end the deportation of Black immigrants, including many women, and children. America has long claimed to be the land of opportunity and a haven for those seeking safety, but for Black immigrants and many others, we are failing. We need to live up to that promise now.”
The Children Thrive Action Network (CTAN) is a group of national, state, and local organizations working to defend and support children in mixed-status immigrant families. Organizations committed to this mission can join the network here.