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Halt Deportations to Haiti

Posted on: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Keywords: Haiti, Latin American and Caribbean, Human Rights Advocacy, Earthquake

In December 2010, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Authorities announced their plan to resume deportations to Haiti in January 2011. Haiti, a country still recovering from a detrimental earthquake that struck one year ago, is also struggling in the face of a recent cholera epidemic, continuing political instability and epidemic levels of sexual violence. On Monday, MADRE signed on to a letter addressed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to express our support of a petition 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. This petition requests that the Commission call on the US government to halt the deportations of Haitian nationals to Haiti. As the letter emphasizes, in light of the condition of the country and the various crises faced by its people, deportations at this time would be both inhumane and impracticable, and must be halted.

Read the letter below:

January 10, 2011

Re.: Letter in Support of Precautionary Measures to Stop Imminent
Deportations of Haitians from the United States

Dear Dr. Canton:

We, the undersigned human and civil rights advocates, write to express great
concern about the recent announcement by the United States government to resume
deportations to Haiti beginning January 2011. In the one year since the January 12,
2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, the United States has laudably set in place
several humanitarian policies to respond to the catastrophe, including granting
temporary protected status (TPS) for many Haitian nationals living in the United
States, humanitarian parole for certain orphans, and, until recently, an indefinite
stay of deportations to Haiti until conditions improve.

Far from improving, conditions in Haiti are equally bad, if not worse, than one year
ago. A cholera epidemic is raging across the country. Over 100,000 people have
contracted cholera and 3,333 have died as a result of the disease. The World Health
Organization and Pan-American Health Organization expect another 650,000 cases
within the first 6 months of 2011. Over 1.2 million people are living in temporary
shelters in internally displaced persons camps. These people and countless others
in Haiti lack basic sanitation, adequate food, potable water, and lighting, and basic
security. Haitian detention centers, where deportees would undoubtedly be held,
are widely-documented as unsanitary, rodent-infested spaces where detainees have
little to no access to food or drinking water and are exposed to disease. Cholera has
already claimed at least 48 lives in detention centers.

In light of these grim conditions, the deportation of Haitian nationals by the U.S. is
inhumane and impracticable.

We therefore write to express our support of the request for precautionary
measures submitted to this Commission on January 6, 2011 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 to halt the roundups, detention, and
imminent deportations of Haitian nationals by the United States government.

We ask that this Commission act decisively and quickly bring the full weight of its
authority to bear on the United States Government, so that it will fulfill its legal
responsibility to protect the rights of vulnerable Haitian individuals who are at risk
of serious harm, even death, and who, if deported, will place an impossible burden
on a detention and justice system in Haiti that is broken.

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