April 15, 2011, New York and Miami – Today, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security resumed deportations of Haitian nationals. On a conference call this morning, U.S. officials confirmed that they have received no assurances that the 19 individuals who were deported will be treated humanely upon their arrival in Haiti. In response, the Center for Constitutional Rights, University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Clinic, FANM/Haitian Women of Miami, Alternative Chance, and Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center issued the following statement:
This morning, the United States deported a second group of Haitian men to face jail and death in post-earthquake Haiti. In January, a 34-year-old man, Wildrick Guerrier, died only 9 days after being deported to Haiti. Guerrier and 26 other men were jailed without being provided with clean water or food and were held in a cell covered with human feces and vomit. Guerrier and other men fell ill, exhibiting cholera-like symptoms, and were refused medical care.
As acknowledged by the U.S. State Department, conditions have only worsened since the January 2010 earthquake that caused ICE to suspend deportations. Haiti is reeling under a cholera epidemic, social unrest, and unsafe and deteriorating tent camps housing over 1.2 million displaced people. Haiti also continues its practice of jailing deportees with past criminal records under life-threatening conditions.
Yet ICE unexpectedly announced in December 2010 that it was lifting the ban on deportations to Haiti for individuals with past criminal records and began rounding up Haitian community members.
Before the first plane to Haiti left on January 20, a wide range of immigrants’ rights and human rights organizations warned that deportation could be a death sentence. On January 6, our organizations petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to instruct the United States to halt the deportations. On February 4, the IACHR issued an order urging the United States not to deport the Haitian petitioners to Haiti and expressing serious concern about the deportations separating families and placing people with medical conditions in life-threatening conditions.
The cholera epidemic has resulted in over a quarter of a million known cases in Haiti with 4,717 reported deaths as of March 18, 2011. Even more alarming, a new study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Harvard Medical School, published March 16, 2011 in the journal Lancet, is predicting that there could be nearly twice the number of previously expected cases of cholera – up to 779,000 – between this March and November 2011 alone. The U.S. government claims it is working with the government of Haiti towards “safe and humane” removals. This is simply not possible given the conditions on the ground, particularly in the jails where deportees are held.
The United States has an obligation not to deport anyone to death. Our country must live up to its human rights commitments and immediately halt any and all deportations to Haiti.
We call on the Obama Administration for an immediate halt to all removals to Haiti and the release of all Haitians being held with final orders of removal.