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Open Society Announces $1.3 Million to Aid Haitian and Black Asylum Seekers

NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations today announced $1.3 million to support frontline organizations working to aid Haitian and Black migrants dislocated, detained, and expelled as they sought asylum and safety at the U.S. southern border this fall. 

This funding will help provide legal services to Haitian asylum seekers arriving at the southwest border and support advocacy to protect their rights. It will further enable Black-led organizations to champion more broadly the humane treatment of all Black immigrants seeking safety and stability in the United States.

Open Society’s support is an emergency response to an ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis, including the dehumanizing abuses at the Del Rio-Ciudad Acuña International Bridge, where thousands of Haitians had gathered in search of protection and the chance for a better life. U.S. Border Patrol agents met them with violence, some on horseback, wielding the reins on their horses like whips—a grim reminder of the racial oppression marking some of the most shameful chapters of America’s past.

The U.S. government has forcibly expelled more than 8,000 Haitians back to that country, even though many had relocated to other nations following a devastating earthquake in 2010. Thousands more are being held in immigration detention centers, while others still are in precarious positions—some in highly vulnerable conditions in Northern Mexico and others pursuing asylum claims inside the U.S.

“The treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border is unconscionable and a stain on our country’s standing across the region and among Black Americans,” said Alexander Soros, deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations. “The damage done by these policies will last long after headlines fade. These policies must change, accountability must be served, and the basic dignity and rights of the tired and poor, yearning to be free are honored here. We are proud to support organizations working on overdrive to help thousands through this crisis—and through our policy arm and efforts of the Foundations’ leadership, are advocating directly for an end to expulsions and deportations of Haitians as well.” 

Grants will support such organizations as Haitian Bridge Alliance, UndocuBlack Network, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, advancing strategies to protect rights, bolster legal services, and promote policy change, while building the capacity of Haitian diaspora and other Black-led immigrant justice organizations that have historically been under-resourced.

This rapid response funding follows on Open Society’s earlier announcement of $2.5 million in emergency relief for Haiti in the aftermath of an August 14 earthquake that claimed more than 2,000 lives and left hundreds of others missing.

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