Haitian asylum seekers being offered pro bono legal help

National groups in Del Rio to make Haitians aware of their rights

DEL RIO, Texas – On the ground with the 4,000 Haitian arrivals who remain in Del Rio was Carlos Moore, the president of the National Bar Association, the largest organization of 65,000 African-American lawyers, judges, law students and professors.

“We see them. We hear them,” said Moore. “We know that they have been dealt a raw deal.”

Moore arrived Thursday along with representatives of several Haitian organizations in the U.S., including the Haitian-American Elected Officials Network and the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

They came to make them aware of their rights under U.S. asylum law, he said, since Title 42 prohibits the entry of people who could be considered a health risk during the pandemic.

“They are not being afforded due process,” Moore said. “We had to let them know they do have rights once they touch American soil.”

In addition to moral support, Moore said pro bono legal help is being offered to mostly Haitian families, who’ve been allowed to stay to await their asylum hearings, as well as those who were sent elsewhere to be processed, and those who’ve been flown back to Haiti.

Moore said the hope is they’ll also spread the word about their offer among family members back home.

“We are ready to bring the full resources of the entire organization to bear,” Moore said. “We will do what we can from across the country, virtually. And, as many of us who need to take shifts coming down here, we will.”

Their visit comes on the day Daniel Foote, the presidential envoy to Haiti, submitted his letter of resignation in protest of the “inhumane” large-scale expulsions of Haitian migrants.

Moore said, “What we have seen is egregious and it has to stop and it has to stop soon.”

He said the worst example was last Sunday’s incident involving U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback confronting migrants crossing the Rio Grande with sacks of food for their families and others camped below the international bridge.

“Why was he treating the person like a slave? That’s a searing image that should never have entered my psyche and I could not erase it from my mind,” Moore said.

Told the White House had just announced the use of horses would be temporarily suspended, Moore said, “That’s a step in the right direction.”

Moore said U.S. Homeland Security had approved their visit Thursday.

He said the delegation would help other organizations that are there now to help the migrants.

“We’ll give them legal assistance because most of them are not legally trained, but they are good humanitarians,” Moore said.

He also said language wouldn’t be a problem in speaking with migrants, since many of those with him do speak Creole.

Their visit will be a relief in more ways than one.

“I know the officials of Haitian descent are relieved,” Moore said. “I’m sure that the migrants will be as well.”

Overall, Moore said he took issue with Afghan refugees being welcomed, but Haitians are being deported.

“This is America. It’s a place that should be welcoming to all,” Moore said.


About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.