Humanitarian Parole Crisis: How Racist Policies and Practices Deny Haitian Refugees Work Authorization


On November 14, 2023, TakeRoot and Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees released Humanitarian Parole Crisis: How Racist Policies and Practices Deny Haitian Refugees Work Authorization. The report was released at a community briefing hosted by Brooklyn College and speakers included Ninaj Raoul of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and Kadijah Almarales of TakeRoot Justice.

The report sheds light on the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by U.S. immigration policies and practices that create barriers for Haitian refugees, migrants and asylum seekers: granting them insufficient humanitarian parole periods, which, coupled with substantial delays in processing work authorization applications, prevent people from accessing the legal employment to which they are entitled.

Drawing on fourteen in-depth interviews with Haitian refugees, migrants and asylum seekers and legal service providers, our report reveals the systemic barriers faced by Haitians seeking to live and work with dignity in the U.S, as well as demonstrating the racism inherent in the treatment of Haitians both historically and present day.

Humanitarian parole allows individuals to enter the U.S. for a temporary period based on urgent humanitarian reasons. The parole allows refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to apply for a critical lifeline: the Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”), also known as a work permit, so that they can support themselves and their families as they pursue a more permanent immigration status.  However, shortened humanitarian parole terms coupled with substantial systemic backlogs in processing employment authorization documents have resulted in a system which fails those who need it. Further, our research revealed that the curtailment of humanitarian parole, together with delayed processing of EADs, was received as a deliberate attempt to strip people of their right to work, and a manifestation of anti-Haitianism and Anti-Black racism at large.

The report lays out comprehensive policy recommendations that humanely address the findings of our research. Recommendations include making five-year humanitarian parole the default granted to all who enter at U.S. points of entry; streamlining and accelerating the processing of EADs and implementing automatic renewals for all recipients; implementing a nationwide policy which allows the parole to be automatically extended upon its expiration; and enforcing applicable local and federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on perceived immigration status in the workplace.


Read the full report here, and the executive summary here.