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Maryland officials speak out in support of Haitian immigrants

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Immigration And Naturalization

Current federal budget negotiations threaten to further limit the ways that asylum seekers can legally enter the U.S. In opposition to these looming restrictions, a group of 50 local, state and federal elected officials across Maryland recently signed a joint letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, advocating for relief for Haitian migrants.

This effort, spearheaded by Montgomery County Councilmember Kristin Mink, emphasizes the direct impact federal immigration policy has on local communities in Maryland.

Conditions in Haiti

Haitians have long lived with the following negative conditions:

Political instability, including the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse

Gang violence

Economic hardship

Natural disasters such as major earthquakes

Lack of basic services such as clean water and education.

These conditions have driven many Haitians to seek refuge in other countries, including the United States.

Federal immigration policies

The current administration has taken mixed positions on its policies regarding Haiti. For example, while one federal agency warns that Haiti is too dangerous for US citizens to enter, another continues deportations to the violence-torn country. At the same time, the administration has expanded legal pathways for Haitians. One of these pathways is a parole program that allows for legal entry into the US.

Opposition to asylum

The Biden administration faces opposition from some who argue that its policies are insufficient. Others believe them to be detrimental to national security. Senate Republicans, for example, have attempted to end the United States’ asylum program. If they are successful, many Haitians in Maryland might face deportation.

The letter that Maryland officials wrote highlights the challenges faced by Haitians seeking refuge. As discussions continue at the federal level, the voices of these elected officials serve as a reminder of the human impact of immigration policies.

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