The U.S. has resumed deporting Haitians after a one year post-earthquake moratorium. About 700 have been classified as “criminal aliens.” Spokesperson for ICE Barbara Gonzalez contends that all are consistent with the U.S. policy of removing those who pose “a threat to public safety.” Twenty seven Haitians have already been deported.
However some believe the deportations are inhumane since Haiti is still struggling with a vicious cholera epidemic that has killed almost 4,000 and infected 20,000. Haiti is also dealing with a shaky recovery from last year’s deadly 7.0 earthquake and a disputed presidential election. Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center’s Executive Director Cheryl Little asked, “Why is it so urgent for the U.S. to deport Haitians when Haiti remains in ruin? It makes no sense for either country.” She added, “This is death by deportation.”
Sure enough, 34 year-old Wildrick Guerrier died shortly after being detained in a Haitian jail, exhibiting cholera symptoms such as extreme vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea. Guerrier had been living in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident since he was a teenager, and was completing an 18 month criminal sentence when a judge ordered for his deportation.
A number of advocacy groups came together to file an emergency petition with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) to halt the deportations of hundreds of Haitian nationals by U.S. immigration authorities.
Submitted by the University of Miami School of Law, Human Rights and Immigration Clinics; the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center; the Center for Constitutional Rights, Alternative Chance, and the Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice, the petition contends, “The Haitian state has no capacity to provide for the safe and dignified reintegration of those deported, many of whom are long-time U.S. residents with no resources in Haiti…While we support the enforcement of immigration laws, we are concerned that the continuing state of emergency in Haiti will jeopardize the lives of those deported and divert resources from the recovery and reconstruction effort.”
The petition also calls out the recent raids that have taken place, claiming that immigrants in Florida have been separated from their families and legal service providers, and have been sent off the remote detention camps in Louisiana. Among those detained include Haitians who were convicted of minor offenses and then released for good behavior, as well as mentally disabled individuals and parents of U.S. citizens.
To read the full petition and sign, click here.
Photo credit: dreamstime
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