CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. Jan. 14, 2011: Some Haitian American and rights groups are hopping mad over the U.S.` decision to resume deportations to Haiti.
One year after the devastating earthquake that left over 300,000 dead and more than a million displaced, and as Haiti continues to battle with a cholera epidemic, homelessness, unemployment and rubble in the streets of Port-Au-Prince, the U.S. government says deportations of Haitian migrants with criminal records will resume.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is among the groups denouncing the decision. The organization says the move `is wrong, and will put lives at risk while creating an additional problem for the maintenance of public order in beleaguered Haiti.`
`Deporting Haitians – especially those with criminal records – from the United States at this time is an unwise and dangerous policy,` Jesuit Refugee Service/USA added.
The organization and other faith-based and legal services groups have written to Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, asking that the department reconsider this pending action but says it has yet to get a response to the concerns raised in the letter.
`DHS has not issued any written guidance explaining this new policy on Haitian deportations. Instead it has given verbal briefings to a limited group of stakeholders stating that the U.S. government will initially detain and deport individuals with `serious criminal convictions,` with an ultimate expectation of removing 700 people by the end of 2011,` said a Jesuit statement
The group says they 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 and that it will be nearly impossible to carry out the planned deportations and provide for the reintegration of those deported, many of whom are long-time U.S. residents with no resources in Haiti.
Reports so far indicate that about 100 Haitians have been transferred to remote detention centers in Louisiana to prepare for deportation.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is urging 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, which have been suspended since the earthquake.
`We also ask what steps are being taken in Haiti to prepare for the returns and what agreements have been reached with the Haitian government regarding the treatment of those returned,` the group added.
Six civil and human rights groups have so far filed an emergency petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to stop the deportations to Haiti of convicted criminals that are scheduled to resume this month.
The petition asks the commission to order the U.S. to continue its stay of deportations, release the deportees from detention and disclose how officials decided to resume deportations to Haiti. The groups say political unrest and widespread cholera in earthquake-stricken Haiti make it inhumane to deport people there.
The U.S. halted deportations to Haiti after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. Immigration authorities now say starting this month, Haitians convicted of violent crimes who have completed their sentences will be returned home.