U.N. experts condemn U.S. expulsions of Haitian migrants

FILE PHOTO: Haitian migrants ride on a bus after arriving on a deportation flight from the United States, amidst the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Port-au-Prince, Haiti April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Jeanty Junior Augustin/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - UN human rights experts on Monday condemned Washington's expulsions of Haitian migrants and refugees, saying they formed part of a policy of "racialised exclusion" of Black Haitians at U.S. ports of entry.

Under its so-called Title 42 policy passed last year by the administration of former President Donald Trump on sanitary grounds, the United States has authorised the collective expulsion of migrants and asylum seekers.

So far, it has returned hundreds of migrants from a camp in Del Rio, Texas, to Haiti and moved thousands for processing away from the encampment, U.S. officials have said.

The group of five U.N. human rights experts who are focused on racism and xenophobia have written a so-called "allegation letter" to Washington to protest against the government's actions, according to a press statement.

The letter is not yet public.

"In expediting the collective expulsion of Haitian migrants, the United States is subjecting a group of predominantly Black migrants to impermissible risks of refoulement (forced returns) and human rights abuse without any individualised evaluation," the experts said, adding that the actions were likely violations of international refugee and human rights laws.

"States cannot label all migrants of a certain nationality per se threats to national security, and all migrants, no matter their nationality, race or migration status, must be guaranteed the protections called for under international law," they continued.

A spokesperson for the U.N. experts said she was unaware that any specific legal challenge had been mounted.

U.S. President Joe Biden has faced growing pressure from some health experts and fellow Democrats to stop applying the Title 42 order that has essentially cut off access to asylum for hundreds of thousands of migrants, including many from the troubled Caribbean nation.

Biden's administration has justified the policy as necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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