DHS faces blowback over short-changing Haitian language in new parole program

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Immigrant-rights advocates chided the Department of Homeland Security on Friday, saying a new system for allowing migrants to plead for entry to the U.S. despite the ongoing Title 42 border expulsion policy short-changes Haitians’ primary language.

The Haitian Bridge Alliance said the smartphone app migrants are told to use to apply for entry is available with translations in English and Spanish but not Haitian Creole.

“We question why the administration — who recognized the importance of language accessibility in translating the application into Spanish — thought it appropriate to launch a program geared towards Haitians without taking the most basic fact into account: the national language of Haiti is Haitian Creole,” said Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

Customs and Border Protection said Haitian Creole is available for one new pathway of entry for Haitians applying from their home country, for example. But it may not be available for Haitians who show up at the southern border without permission and seek an exemption from the Title 42 expulsion policy that would usually apply.

Part of the confusion is that both programs — the one for Haitians to apply from outside Mexico and the one for those who show up at the Mexican border — go through the CBP One app, which is one way the agency interfaces with the public.

The app requires an account with Login.gov, which gives users the option of English, French and Spanish versions.

The Traveler section, where “undocumented” travelers can sign up to show up and ask for entry at a land border crossing despite not qualifying, has only Spanish and English versions.

CBP says most of those who show up at the southern border use Spanish.

Meanwhile, those who apply for the new program to admit 30,000 Haitians, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Cubans a month go through a different process.

A U.S.-based sponsor applies directly to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to bring someone in. If approved, the migrant creates an account with USCIS and answers questions. Then USCIS directs the migrant back to the CBP One app’s air travel section, which is available in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.

Haiti’s two official languages are Haitian Creole and French. Spanish is the official language of the other three countries.

French is not currently an option for the 30,000 person-per-month parole program.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect that one method of entry for Haitian migrants does have availability in Haitian Creole, but another does not.

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