Last September, we all saw terrible images of U.S. Border Patrol violence against Black migrants at Del Rio. Tragically, DHS quickly expelled many of those individuals to danger in Haiti. ICE locked up others in several immigration detention centers under dehumanizing conditions. 73 Haitians ended up in the remote Torrance County Detention Facility in New Mexico. In addition to denying them adequate food, water and healthcare, ICE initially refused to allow these individuals a chance to speak with attorneys. Not only that, but the federal government fast-tracked their immigration court proceedings in an attempt to deport them as quickly as possible.

Our Response:

In response, Innovation Law Lab joined with our partners at the El Paso Immigration Collaborative, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the American Immigration Council and courageous local attorney Allegra Love to demand just treatment, access to counsel and swift release. 

Together, we sent two letters to ICE demanding immediate access to legal services. We also collaborated with a dedicated network of volunteers to submit release requests on behalf of the Haitians. Finally, last month, these actions along with other advocacy efforts succeeded.

Ultimately, every last one of the 73 Haitians detained at Torrance won their release.

Innovation Law Lab celebrates this victory by thanking everyone who supports our work and by reaffirming our faith in the power of collaborative work. We could not have done this without remote volunteers across the country or all of the organizations mentioned above.

What’s Next?

The government continues to escape accountability for its injustices against people at Del Rio. Racist U.S. immigration policies continue to disproportionately impact Black immigrants from Haiti, Jamaica, Cameroon and many other countries.

That is why, in Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden, Innovation Law Lab, Justice Action Center and Haitian Bridge Alliance represent eleven Haitian asylum seekers who survived abusive treatment in the CBP encampment at Del Rio and were expelled without an opportunity to access the U.S. asylum system. 

Between September 2021, when the Del Rio encampment formed, and February 17, 2022, 161 planes expelled or deported nearly 18,000 people back to Haiti. Many Haitians are still detained in ICE custody. Additionally, while 73 Haitians were freed from Torrance, the abuses against others held there continue. Right now, many Turkish Kurds are experiencing language access injustice within the walls of Torrance. 

We won’t stop fighting for justice and freedom for immigrants & refugees.