After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged Haiti on Jan. 12, the U.S. government suspended deportations of Haitian immigrants. Instead of sending them back to the devastated island-nation, the government granted them temporary protected status. Well, that status is slated to expire in mid-July. To boot, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) has resumed rounding up Haitians who’ve served time for crimes and will begin deporting them in mid-January. The problem with this is that Haiti’s in no shape to receive these deportees.
Nearly a year after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians remain homeless. Moreover, a cholera outbreak has sickened more than 90,000 Haitians, and the recent elections in Haiti resulted in political unrest. Haiti’s recovery is nowhere near complete, so sending scores of deportees to the island-nation is a surefire way to overtax its already troubled government. Because Haiti remains in such turmoil, organizations such as the Center for Constitutional Rights fear that anyone deported to Haiti may end up dying as a result of disease or other factors. There’s also great fear that I.C.E. won’t just target criminals for deportation, but a wide range of Haitians.
Tell I.C.E. it’s inhumane to deport immigrants to a nation in ruins. Those immigrants who’ve committed crimes can be detained in the U.S., and the rest of the Haitian community should be shielded from deportation until Haiti makes measurable strides in its recovery efforts.
An I.C.E. official told the New York Times that the State Department is working with the Haitian government “to ensure that the resumption of removals is conducted in a safe, humane manner with minimal disruption to ongoing rebuilding efforts.” But how can that be when disease, homelessness and violence continue to afflict Haiti? Deportation is not a safe option. Therefore, I.C.E. should not exercise this option until Haiti has made significant advances in its recovery process.