Protesters Block Miami Streets in Effort to Stop Haitian Deportations

A large group of demonstrators blocked the entrance to Port Miami on Monday, calling for an end to the recent deportations of Haitian immigrants.

Overhead views of the protest from around 12:30 p.m. ET showed the group carrying signs that read "Stop deporting Haitians" and "Kamala Harris: Deliver citizenship for millions" as police stood nearby.

Leaders with the Florida Immigrant Coalition spoke with Miami news station WPLG Local 10 about the protest's goals and the group's demands for U.S. leaders.

"We have a unique opportunity, and we need to know where is Vice President Harris, where is this administration," Melissa Taveras said. "That's why we're here, to make these demands."

Protest Banners Miami
Protesters stand together as they ask Vice President Kamala Harris to stop deporting Haitians on October 18, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The protesters would like to see Harris use her power to grant permanent citizenship for millions through reconciliation. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Miami Police officers on the scene told Local 10 that once the protesters blocked the port entrance, they intervened and attempted to make them disperse. When they did not voluntarily clear the way, officers began to make arrests.

"This caught us by surprise," Officer Michael Vega said. "We weren't expecting them to tie hands as they did and lay at the entrance to the port. We explained to them if you don't stop or get up and move you will be arrested. Eventually, after disregarding our commands, they were arrested."

The U.S. has seen a recent surge of Haitian immigrants as the Caribbean country grapples with several destabilizing events. In August, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked the island nation, killing over 700 people. A month earlier, President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home during an overnight attack masquerading as a "DEA operation."

Despite pledges of help from the U.S. government, Haitian migrants have instead faced mass deportation on historic levels and mistreatment by border officials. Amid conflicting reports about the use of force by border agents against migrants, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz pledged to investigate the matter.

Protests in Miami have been ongoing for several weeks. More than 100 demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building in the city on September 22 to demand that the Biden administration welcome Haitians fleeing their unstable country. Protesters at one point began chanting "Joe Biden we're angry. Joe Biden when we're angry we don't play" in Haitian Creole.

"Why can't we be afforded the same treatment as the Afghans and the Cubans and everyone else?" Miami Gardens Councilwoman Linda Julien, the first Haitian American person elected to public office in the city, said at the gathering. "We're tired."