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Immigration advocates protest in Phoenix over Haitian migrant deportations

Posted at 10:34 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 01:34:25-04

PHOENIX — Immigration advocates and community members protested in Phoenix on Thursday against the treatment of Haitian migrants at the border.

Puente Human Rights Movement and CHISPA Arizona held the protest in front of the ICE Field Office, with dozens showing up.

They are calling for the end to Title 42 and to end deportations.

"The images that we're seeing from Del Rio, Texas right now, they are unbelievable - with whips, hitting people and mothers, fathers coming here seeking asylum, seeking refuge, seeking help and this is how we open our arms to them?" said Jovana Renteria, Puente Human Rights Movement.

The Trump administration invoked Title 42 in 2020 to expel people at the border, without due process, over public health concerns such as COVID-19 spread.

The policy is still in place and is now being used to deport Haitian migrants in Texas.

"You're leaving people in vulnerable, tight corners south of the border. You are only helping to spread the virus, if they have it already," said Chris Fleischman, ACLU of Arizona.

"These people are fleeing something, you know. We've seen things happen in their country, there's political instability," said protester Imani Cruz.

The Biden administration has since responded to questions regarding mass deportations.

"They are not deportations; people are not coming into the country through legal methods and again, our policy process has continued to be the same with Haiti as with anybody coming through regular migration across our border," says Jen Psaki, White House press secretary.

Many of those at the protest say they were compelled to come out and denounce the abuse of refugees at the border. The Department of Homeland Security is launching an investigation into all of that.

"We're supposed to be a nation that accepts and shelters and feeds and helps people," said protester Kimberly Shelton.

"The fact that people are still being treated like they are less than human is unacceptable," said protester Shela Yu.

Some believe this is much more than just an immigration issue.

"Definitely, people get treated differently because of the color of their skin, you know, we have to really acknowledge that," said Renteria.