Dear People and Friends of the Diocese of New Jersey,
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2
Images that came out of Del Rio, Texas, this past week showing Haitian refugees being treated brutally and inhumanely were appalling and are to be condemned. There is no excuse for what happened. I am grateful for the statement issued by our Office of Government Relations on the Situation in Del Rio on Wednesday, September 22, and am allowing it, as well as a Statement on the Haitian Immigration Crisis co-signed by me and a coalition of concerned groups within the Diocese of New Jersey, speak for me this week. Please read both and help us take meaningful steps to address the injustices of it all.
Next Thursday, at 6:00 p.m., I am convening a Special Town Hall on the Haitian Refugee Crisis (click to register) so that we can explore together how we are called to respond as a diocese to this humanitarian and moral crisis and to welcome the suffering who have fled Haiti into our midst.
Please pray for the people of Haiti both in Haiti and those who have fled.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes
12th Bishop of New Jersey
Statement on the Current Crisis from the Haitian Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
September 24, 2021
The Haitian Ministry of the Diocese of New Jersey is relieved at the news today that Haitian migrants at the U.S. border in Texas are being offered temporary housing in the United States as they await asylum hearings.
This, of course, comes after sickening photos and videos were released of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horses charging into groups of Haitian refugees in Del Rio, Texas, swinging their horse reins like whips. This dehumanizing conduct by U.S. agents only makes a desperate situation even worse and continues a decades-long tradition of inhumane treatment of Black migrants in the United States, especially Haitians.
Haitian asylum seekers have every right to expect humane and respectful treatment from the United States government. Being rounded up like cattle is the exact opposite of that expectation and, in fact, is in stark contrast to the reception being afforded migrants from Afghanistan and other places.
We stand in concert with the State of New Jersey Chapter of the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network, East Orange, N.J. Mayor Ted R. Green, East Orange Third Ward Councilman Bergson Leneus, Irvington Councilwoman Charnette Frederic, Union Township Mayor Michele Delisfort, Rev. Jean Maurice, President of the Haitian Pastors Association, and Elizabeth Board of Education Commissioner Stan Neron who also have denounced the treatment of Haitian asylum seekers at the hands of immigration officers in Del Rio, Texas.
Please join us in calling for an immediate investigation of the shameful and deplorable conduct in Del Rio and in urging Congress to increase its efforts to formalize a compassionate and equitable immigration policy and procedures for all people, regardless of their country of origin.
In addition, the Diocese of New Jersey is calling on its 137 parishes to consider ways that they can effectively respond to this urgent crisis.
Father Robin Pierre, Regional Director, Haitian Ministry of the Diocese of New Jersey
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
The Urban Revitalization Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
The Anti-Racism Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
The Union of Black Episcopalians, Earl B. Scott Chapter
The Episcopal Church Women of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
The Committee on Black Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
The Hispanic Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
A Statement on the Situation in Del Rio
The situation in Del Rio on the United States-Mexico border with an estimated 14,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, is a jarring manifestation of economic, human rights, environmental, and migration crises. The U.S. response is deeply problematic – the use of cruel and inhumane enforcement by border patrol agents on horseback reveals inexcusable racist dynamics at play. The Episcopal Church decries the treatment of these migrants in Del Rio and denounces racism both explicit and systemic, just as we urge for broader changes to international assistance and immigration policy.
Haiti is in the midst of security, governance, and economic crises, and as a result, the government is not equipped to receive large numbers of Haitians. This is indeed justification for the Biden Administration rightfully redesignating Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in the U.S. and a reason why Haitians should not be sent to an unstable and insecure environment right now. Indeed, many of the Haitians who recently crossed the border left Haiti more than a decade ago, following the 2010 earthquake, and thus are not well equipped to return. Migrants with viable asylum claims should have the ability to access protection at the border and the rapid expulsions of Haitians to Haiti under Title 42 is not acceptable.
Our asylum system is not designed to grant status to those who are fleeing economic hardship, and indeed, economic migrants around the world often struggle to find opportunities to make a living and provide for their families. For this reason, and for other shortcomings of our outdated immigration system, we continue to call for comprehensive immigration reform that reimagines immigration with compassion and a humanitarian lens while still acknowledging the need for secure borders. This would include respecting the right to asylum as required by domestic and international laws.
Finally, when considering the root causes of migration and the role the U.S. plays in these causes, we call for a revamping of U.S. foreign policy including particular changes to the country’s engagement with Haiti. To this end, we joined this Joint Statement on Haiti that emphasizes the need for Haitian-led solutions to governance, security, and disaster response, and are engaging in regular meetings with U.S. government officials about the situation on the ground in Haiti. In particular, we encourage attention to and support of the work of the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, which has been working for months to create a pathway forward for governance and build a consensus within Haiti.
Share this joint statement with your members of Congress.
If your church is engaged in direct ministry in Haiti, consider signing this pledge for new minimum standards of engagement.
Write your members of Congress about comprehensive immigration reform.