Haiti-USA: US Deportations to Haiti are Inhumane and Tear Families Apart
- Segunda-feira 30 abril, 2012 07:21
MIAMI, USA (defend.ht)-Interviewed by Defend Haiti, Drew Aiken from University of Miami Human Rights and Immigration Clinics depicted how awful deportees’ living conditions are in Haiti after the disaster. The Clinics, she said, are asking to US government to stop deportations to the earthquake-ravaged country, or to consider some humanitarian factors before sending people there.Defend Haiti (DH): When and why the project Human Rights and Immigration Clinics started?
It began last year after the US restarted deporting in January 2011 people to the earthquake-ravaged Haiti. We discovered then that deportees were detained in horrible conditions in Haiti’s detention centers. One of them, Wildrick Guerrier, even died of cholera. On January 6, 2011, the Human Rights and Immigration Clinics, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Haitian Women in Miami (FANM), Alternative Chance and the Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice filed an emergency petition for precautionary measures with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to halt the roundups, detention, and imminent deportations of hundreds of Haitian nationals by the United States government. Inter-American Commission granted and recommended not to deport people in bad medical conditions or having strong family ties in the US. Then Immigration Clinic worked with the Commission to make sure that US government complies with those recommendations. DH: The Human Rights Clinic met deportees in Haiti during a trip down there. Can you tell us more about their living conditions?
The Human rights Clinic went to Haiti in February 2012 to Haiti to update the Inter-American Commission about how the deportees are doing there. Their living conditions are very bad. A lot of them don’t have any job, living in tent camps. Many of them have serious health conditions including HIV. One deportee we met had a serious injury, it was infected, and living in an insanitary tent made the infection worse. Moreover, many deportees have US citizen children living in the States and now they are not able to support them. So the family impact is very great on the people in the US, their families are ripped apart by those deportations.
Deportees are much stigmatized in Haiti, so it’s very hard for them to get an employment. Some are lucky enough to be with family, but it’s not the case for much of them. The conditions on the ground are very bad, there still half of million people displaced, there is not enough food, water, medicine. And it’s worse for deportees because they don’t have any ID so they have much trouble finding help.
We met deportees in Haiti’s detention center. It smells, it’s filthy, detainees are screaming. A lot of people deported from the United States are detained automatically in Haiti without any process even though their convictions in the U.S. were very minor and in some cases carried no prison sentences.DH: What the Human Rights Clinic can do exactly in that situation?
That’s what we have been working on, we take the pending deportation cases in US to the Inter-American Commission, and then we have working meetings in Washington DC with officials. We discuss how the government is complying with the commission recommendations. First stopping deportations, but specifically considering humanitarian factors before deporting anyone such as family ties in the US, medical conditions and so forth.
A deportee told me he lived in the US for 40 years, he has fought for the United States, he has two US citizen children and his wife is US citizen, but he was deported anyway. So we keep advocating for US government to stop all deportations and when they must deport people to consider all the important factors before sending anyone back to what we think is a life threatening situation in Haiti.
We went especially to Haiti to document the deportees’ situation and say to US government: “those people you send there don’t have water, no medicine, living under tarps”.DH: The Human Rights and Immigration Clinic asks stopping deportations for those who are not been deported yet, but what can be done for those already deported in Haiti?
It is very difficult for a deportee to come back in the US, perhaps some case could be reviewed but it’s very hard. But in Haiti there is reintegration program that US government has put for them and we want to be sure that they get services from that. We want to make sure they get all the help possible. Besides, some deportees’ organizations are also trying to help them to adapt to their new country, the culture. Many deportees landing in Haiti were born in US or elsewhere, they probably have tattoos, they don’t speak creole, so people look at them differently and many times they’re blamed for crimes they have not committed. They’re targeted and stigmatized. We are very concerned about their safety.DH: The US government continue to deport people after January 12-earthquake. How many were deported since then and do UM Clinics really contribute to lower the number of deportees to Haiti?
While we remain highly concerned that States continue to forcibly remove Haitian nationals, we believe that our advocacy has had some positive effect on the U.S.’s deportation policy. For example, we believe that the number of individuals deported from the United States since the January 2010 earthquake – over 468 (there were 468 deported from January 2011-February 2012, but we do not have the totals from March 2012-this the total is probably over 500 since approximately 50 people have been deported per month for the past 6 months) – is lower than the number originally anticipated by the United States Government, at least 700 per year.
Additionally most individuals who have been granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have not been deported from the United States. Thirty-five of the 55 beneficiaries of precautionary measures have not been deported.
We hope that the number of deportation gets smaller or comes close to zero. Haiti is still so fragile and this is putting a burden over a country that already lacks so much.See: stophaitideportations.org for more