Fayetteville refugee advocate, pastor criticizes Biden administration for mass expulsion of Haitian asylum seekers


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Haitian asylum seekers are being expelled in large numbers from Texas, and the Biden administration is being criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike. A local refugee advocate and pastor rebuked the administration Tuesday.

Northwest Arkansas is home to refugees and migrants from around the world. CanopyNWA is the well-known group that has ventured into outreach since it was founded by local pastor Clint Schnekloth. The group is one of two rehoming Afghan refugees in Arkansas.

Schnekloth, who preaches as Good Shephard Lutheran Church in Fayetteville and is a self-described progressive, said he’s shocked by the images he’s seen of these asylum seekers. The refugees said they’re afraid to return to a country reeling from a devastating earthquake and presidential assassination.

“The Biden administration is not showing the same treatment of Haitian asylees as Afghan asylees,” Schnekloth said. “Those of us who work with asylum seekers and refugees are calling on the Biden administration to treat the Haitians fairly and legally.”

Schnekloth said the mass expulsion runs counter to the needs of the country.

“We can’t get enough workers, so why are we blocking people who simply want to come in here and work?” Schnekloth said. “It’s weird to see both those things in the headlines at the same time.”

The Dept. of Homeland Security is pointing to the public health law known as Title 42. This law essentially seals the northern and southern borders during a pandemic. The Biden administration is keeping it in place following it first being invoked during the Trump presidency.

“We need to repeal that, because when that’s in place it’s kind of encouraging or exacerbating the inhumane violations that are happening at the border,” Schnekloth said.

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