Over the last two months, Philadelphia has activated local compassion and resources to welcome Afghan evacuees arriving at our airport. We’ve been inspired by Philadelphians’ generosity in this moment of crisis for the people of Afghanistan. Today we ask for an extension of that generosity to Haitian families that have begun to arrive in Philadelphia and who are seeking an opportunity for a new start in the United States.
Haitian-led community groups in Philadelphia estimate that nearly 50 adults and children have arrived and many more are likely to come to Philadelphia in the upcoming weeks. These families have made their way here with the support of informal networks of relatives and faith leaders, similar to what has occurred in neighboring communities, and continue to receive support from these groups.
How did we get here?
Haiti has recently suffered political turmoil and increased violence on the heels of the assassination of their president and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that was immediately followed by a tropical storm. These crises have resulted in the death and injury of over 14,000 people. Prior to recent events, the country has had ongoing challenges related to earthquakes and storms compromising critical infrastructure and creating conditions that most consider unlivable. Beyond natural disasters, Haiti has also experienced increased gang violence and political unrest that compromises the lives of Haitians whose open support for one political party over another can often result in additional severe harm and suffering. This has caused many Haitian families to pursue entry into the United States and other countries by refugee and asylum-seeking processes.
National advocacy groups have documented the challenges that Black immigrants face accessing entry into the United States. In recent weeks, the federal government has continued to utilize Section 265 of U.S. Code Title 42 that permits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to deport thousands of people that have arrived at the U.S. Southern border, including Haitians. Title 42 is a public health policy that many in the welcoming community consider inhumane and many public health experts have deemed unnecessary.
It is estimated that more than 7,000 people have been deported under CDC Title 42, another 5,000 are held in detention by Customs and Border Patrol, and about 12,400 have been allowed into the country to make their claim for asylum, mostly children and families. Those families allowed into the U.S. have been making their way throughout the country to get safely reconnected with family and community members and have been given 60 days to appear in immigration court to plead their case for asylum or they risk removal and deportation.
How can you help?
The Haitian population in Philadelphia is expected to grow in the weeks and months to come, and it is unclear if they will receive any support from our federal immigration system and programs. In an effort to grow and sustain the local mutual aid efforts led by Haitian leaders, the City of Philadelphia and the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs are asking for our residents’ support which is needed now more than ever!
Haitian families arriving in Philadelphia are most in need of safe and affordable housing, quality and low-cost legal representation, and culturally relevant mental health and trauma support. The best way for residents to support these families is by making monetary donations to vetted organizations that are providing housing support, legal assistance, mental health, and other supports to the families. This will give them the greatest flexibility to meet the needs of arriving families. The Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs has been working closely with the following organizations that have been supporting arriving families.
- Haitian American United for Change
- Caribbean Community of Philadelphia
- Dr. Johanne Louis Foundation
- HIAS PA
- Nationalities Services Center
Organizations are also accepting donated goods of new or gently used items in ongoing donation drives. Below is a list of ongoing collection locations:
6605 Rising Sun Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19111
Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
5530 Chester Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143
Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Items accepted for donation:
- New or gently used cold-weather clothing for adults and children of all sizes.
- New or very gently used shoes for adults and children of all sizes.
- Baby items such as diapers and wipes.
- Hygiene products such as toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, sanitary napkins, etc.
To learn more about the immediate needs of families near the southern U.S. border and national advocacy in support of Haitian migrants, follow Haitian Bridge Alliance on social media.
The people of Haiti and Philadelphia have a rich history of supporting one another, and today is another opportunity to build upon that legacy. It is also an opportunity to continue demonstrating how welcoming a city we are.
- Learn more about the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs
Read updates about Operation Allies Welcome