|We call on the Department of Homeland Security to clarify their new policy and to provide an explanation of how conditions have materially changed in Haiti to justify the resumption of deportations. We also ask for clarity on what steps are being taken in Haiti to prepare for the returns and what agreements have been reached with the Haitian government regarding ensuring the humane and dignified treatment of those returned.|
(Washington, D.C) April 15, 2011 — Today the U.S. Department of Homeland Security again deported Haitians from the United States to Haiti, a nation still reeling from the fall-out of a devastating earthquake, endemic cholera, and unable to provide adequate shelter, food, and basic services for hundreds of thousands of its citizens.
A total of 19 people were deported today, and U.S. authorities confirmed they will be held in jails where cholera is rampant until family members come to claim them. No adequate response has been given to advocates regarding what will happen to long-time U.S. residents deported to Haiti who have no living family members in the Haitian capital.
The January 20, 2011, deportation of 27 Haitians by the U.S. ended in the death, within a week, of one of the deported persons. Wildrick Guerrier, 34, a long-time U.S. resident known for his gentleness and humanity had led an effort among jailed deportees to clean the overcrowded unsanitary cells, had cared for sickening detainees, before succumbing himself to cholera-like symptoms, including extreme vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea. He died shortly thereafter. Many of the other deportees from the flight were released to camps for people displaced by the earthquake, placing a burden on already overtaxed relief efforts.
Haiti is in a severe crisis, with 680,000 people still living in camps. Rape and domestic violence are on the rise, and instability has escalated. Exacerbating the current situation is a cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 4000 lives and is expected to kill thousands more.
The untimely and unnecessary death of Mr. Guerrier demonstrates that 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. We have told and continue to tell both DHS and the State Department about the Haitian inadequacies, yet the deportations continue and more lives are unnecessarily placed at risk.
DHS has issued confusing statements that suggest those targeted for deportation to Haiti will include both Legal Permanent Residents convicted of minor infractions and more serious convictions. DHS has announced that it will continue deportations, and that USAID is contracting with an NGO in Haiti to offer job opportunities to the deported persons, a claim that is hard to confirm because USAID refuses to disclose the name of the NGO or the type of services that will be provided. The U.S. government said that once it executes deportations, the human rights of those deported are a matter to be dealt with by the Haitian government; they have no guarantee that immediate harm will not befall deportees.
We are disturbed by the lack of transparency. It is difficult to understand why this decision has been made at a time when Haiti is experiencing continued instability and an unresolved humanitarian crisis. Placing the additional burden of dealing with these deportees on already overwhelmed Haitian government officials at this time is a bad decision.
We call on the Department of Homeland Security to clarify their new policy and to provide an explanation of how conditions have materially changed in Haiti to justify the resumption of deportations. We also ask for clarity on what steps are being taken in Haiti to prepare for the returns and what agreements have been reached with the Haitian government regarding ensuring the humane and dignified treatment of those returned.
202-462-0400 ext. 5946