Joint Press Release: Biden Administration Must Protect Mauritanians in the United States
WASHINGTON — The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mauritanian Network for Human Rights in the USA, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) and 160 other civil and human rights groups today urged President Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas to immediately grant an 18-month Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Mauritania, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and significant human rights violations in the country.
“While Mauritania criminalized slavery in 2007 — the last country in the world to do so — the practice continues widely, with at least 90,000 people in Mauritania currently enslaved,” the groups wrote. “The United Nations estimates that the number of people enslaved in Mauritania is much higher, with up to 680,000 out of a total population of 3.4 million.”
The groups also noted that Mauritanians who are forcibly removed from the United States face discrimination and inhumane treatment from the government upon their return: “Mauritanians deported from the U.S. are targeted and often face additional unique abuses due to their affiliation with the United States. In recent years, those deported to Mauritania from the United States are confirmed to be systematically jailed upon arrival without charge or due process. They are interrogated in coercive and harsh conditions, without access to counsel, about their time in America, and some are released only after they pay a bribe to be released.”
By protecting Mauritanians in the United States, the administration will send a clear message that the nation condemns the ongoing human trafficking crisis in Mauritania, and will protect the lives and dignity of Black immigrants, per the Biden administration’s stated goal of championing American values and respect for human rights through foreign policy.
The letter and signatories can be found here.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit civilrights.org.
Mauritanian Network for Human Rights in The US is a nonprofit 501(3) organization gathering Mauritanian immigrants living in the US. It is fighting for human rights, civil rights and better opportunities for Mauritanians, both in the US and in Mauritania. Also known as MHNRUS, the Network works diligently to empower Mauritanians immigrants to integrate socially, advance economically, engage civically and fight for a better Mauritania, free of racial discrimination, slavery and injustice. MNHRUS assists Mauritanians by connecting them to important resources in the communities they live in and by assisting them in facing and tackling the issues that matter to them.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) is the largest charitable legal immigration network in the nation, and provides substantive legal and program management training and resources, as well as advocacy support at state, local and national levels. We train nearly 10,000 people each year on immigration-related topics. CLINIC also has a team of immigration attorneys who specialize in religious worker immigration law, assisting Catholic archdioceses, dioceses and religious communities to navigate this complex area of law.