We’ll start with the bad news. Very bad news. Last Friday we reported that the administration had agreed to a suspension of removal flights to Haiti. They were suspended for one day (Friday), On Monday the flights began again, and have continued every day this week.
As many of you know, Jovenel Moise refused to step-down from Haiti’s presidency on Sunday, February 7, 2021. Moise is arguing that a delay in his inauguration (he did not take office until 2017) means he should serve until February 7, 2022. The United States government and Luis Almagro, OAS General Secretary are standing by Moise. Meanwhile, most of Haiti is not.
Over the last few days the Biden administration has increased the removal of people from Haiti dramatically. Most of these removals appear to be Title 42 expulsions. What we’ve seen this week:
On Tuesday evening, February 2, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, to Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly P
On Biden’s first day in office he issued seventeen executive orders, 6 of which dealt with some facet of immigration policy. He also released a summary of a bill his administration would be sending to Congress; and the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum that called for a moratorium on deportations and shifted enforcement priorities. It was an auspicious start - which we tried to capture in some detail last week on the blog.
President Biden has been in office for three days now, and he’s been busy. On the immigration front, Biden has followed through on his promise to rescind many of Trump’s orders and rules. His administration is also working with congressional leaders on a wide-reaching immigration reform bill to be introduced very soon. Below I summarize actions taken thus far, including:
On Friday and Saturday (January 15 and 16) close to 6,000 people crossed into Guatemala near El Florido, Copán in Honduras as part of a massive migrant caravan. The caravan encountered resistance from Guatemalan security forces at the border but were able to get through.
Haiti’s president, Jovenal Moise, and his electoral council have proposed a timeline for elections that include a referendum on a new constitution. At the same time, there is disagreement about Moise’s tenure in office, with opposition leaders and some legal scholars saying Moise should step down on February 7 this year. Moise, disagrees. The timeline his electoral council has submitted assumes he stays in office another year.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement manages the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world. Over the last year, however, the number of people being held in detention has plummeted, from 53,000 in October of 2019, to 16,075 at the beginning of December 2020.
Over the last few weeks there have been some key developments in the broader political context in Haiti.
For a good overview of those developments, see the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti’s summary report of human rights concerns through the end of October. From the introduction of that report: