Ayanna Pressley backs Haitian migrants' civil rights complaint over "systemic abuse"

Washington DC - Rep. Ayanna Pressley, co-chair of the House Haiti Caucus, has expressed support for a civil rights complaint over the treatment of Haitian migrants at the US-Mexico border.

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley released a statement in support of a civil rights complaint on the treatment of Haitian migrants.
Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley released a statement in support of a civil rights complaint on the treatment of Haitian migrants.  © IMAGO / UPI Photo

"The allegations outlined in this complaint are deeply disturbing and underscore the need for a full investigation into the cruel and inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants by DHS," Pressley said in a statement.

"Haitian lives are Black lives and if we truly believe that Black Lives Matter, then there must be accountability. We should be leading with compassion, not cruelty."

The complaint was filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday by Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) on behalf of Haitian-Americans United (HAU) and its members.

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In it, the complainants call for an "immediate investigation into the heinous actions perpetrated by federal officials at the border."

In particular, they decry the lack of access to shelter, medical care, food, water, hygiene supplies, and language interpreters for Haitian migrants at the border, as well as their exceptionally long detention periods.

To fix the DHS's "systemic abuse," the complainants are demanding a "DHS and Inspector General investigation into how racial animus and national origin discrimination produced the unlawful detention conditions at the border."

They are also asking investigators to review the detention times for white migrants as compared to Black migrants and detail their findings in a public report.

As far as policy changes go, the complainants want to see plans to improve access to basic needs along with Covid-19 testing and vaccine distribution.

They also call for tackling overcrowded conditions in detention facilities, providing Haitian Creole interpreters, and requiring anti-bias training for border patrol officers.

The civil rights complaint and Pressley's remarks come as the Biden administration faces criticism for its disproportionately harsh treatment of Haitian migrants.

Cover photo: IMAGO / UPI Photo

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