haitian asylum seekers
A mother clutches her child at a shelter in Texas in September 2021. Photo by Leonardo March

NEW YORK – As thousands of Haitians who entered the United States last September await individual asylum hearings in United States immigration courts, some attorneys and advocates fear their clients might join the more than 20,000 already deported to Haiti in the past year. 

Attorney Frederic Aurelien, who represents six clients in New York, said his are “the ones that are lucky,” with family and friends willing to cover thousands of dollars in legal expenses. One client who arrived in September 2021 has an individual asylum hearing in late April, he said. 

“We’re going to see a lot of them with removal orders,” said Aurelien, of Hackettstown, New Jersey, speaking about asylum cases in general. “And I don’t know how that’s going to play out, if the government’s going to enforce those removal orders.” 

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Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.