Press Release

The AFL-CIO on Haiti Humanitarian Crisis

America should be an open and welcoming country, so we cannot accept how Haitian migrants escaping deplorable conditions have been treated

Workers’ rights are immigrant rights. Immigrants and refugees have always made essential contributions to our economy. America’s unions are committed to rebuilding the safety net and ladders of opportunity for everyone who lives and works here, and we can’t do that without reforming our immigration system.

“Our labor movement represents workers from all backgrounds and from all regions of the world,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “We not only advocate for dignity on the job; we are champions for universal human rights. So we are wounded when we see human beings being treated deplorably, without due process—let alone having the ability to stand up collectively and advocate freely for themselves.”

We must let our government officials know that we have an obligation to help Haitian migrants, examine those policies that continue to oppress and eradicate the systems that deny people basic rights and freedoms.

“We are supposed to be an inviting country. But what does it say when time and time again, we turn our backs on those seeking a better life and those who are discriminated against because of their skin color?” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond. “Black and brown human beings are no less worthy than any other individual. How do we justify this, and what do we say to the young who question this behavior? We can no longer excuse the obvious.”

We in the labor movement fight for fairness, economic empowerment, human rights and voting rights for all, which is why we need refugee resettlement and a pathway to citizenship. Our core union values require us to look at everything through a basic lens of humanity. We cannot have an immigration system focused on deterrence and deportation and inequitable based on race or ethnicity. Instead, we need our government to acknowledge and dismantle systems of structural racism that have been used to keep workers poor in our country and around the world. 

“We have to do everything in our power to make this right. It’s not enough to say, ‘I feel your pain.’ We must have the energy to fix it,” said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre. “The Haitians who need our help have been let down by our government too many times.”

We renew our call for a policy agenda that will uplift rights for all and enable workers and their unions to reduce inequalities and strengthen our fragile democracies. We also call for an immediate end to deportation flights to Haiti, the establishment of meaningful asylum processing and an end to the callous use of Title 42—a program meant to ensure public health—to close our border to asylum seekers.

Contact: Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018