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Deportation to Haiti Was Indeed a Death Sentence: Take Action to Stop Further Removals!

February 2, 2011

via Shaina Aber, Jesuit Refugee Service, USA:

Dear all,

As you know, one of the 27 Haitian nationals who was deported to Haiti on January 20, 2011 by the US government died this past week of what looks like cholera.  Wildrick Guerrier, 34, is survived by his US resident fiancé, Claudine Magloire and an aunt who tried frantically to alert authorities to Mr. Guerrier’s condition.  We have edited our action alert, below, to reflect these sad events.  I urge you to use our system to contact the White House, Secretary Napolitano, and/or to send out your own action alert to your constituencies.  Thanks,

Shaina

>> TAKE ACTION NOW! <<

On January 20, 2011, barely a year since an earthquake rocked Haiti – setting off a series of events that have caused well over 200,000 deaths – the US Department of Homeland Security has announced that it has resumed removals of Haitians with the deportation of 26 Haitians with criminal histories along with one Haitian man who was acquitted of all charges.

Only a week after the US deported these 27 Haitians, one of those deported died following his detention in a Haitian jail.  Wildrick Guerrier, 34 was placed in a Haitian jail following deportation, where he suffered from cholera-like symptoms, including extreme vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea. He died shortly thereafter. Advocates in Haiti and detainee relatives also have informed us that at least one other detainee is suffering similar symptoms.

Haiti is in a severe crisis. Over a million people are without housing, incidences of rape and domestic violence are on the rise, and political violence has escalated. Exacerbating the instability of the current situation is a cholera epidemic that has claimed 4000 lives and is expected to kill thousands more.

The untimely and unnecessary death of Mr. Guerrier proves a point we have raised continuously with DHS and the State Department since they announced their intention to resume deportations of Haitians: The Haitian state has no capacity to provide for the safe and dignified reintegration of those deported, many of whom are long-time U.S. residents with no resources in Haiti.

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 September 2011.

While we support the enforcement of immigration laws, we 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. We are disturbed by the lack of clarity and transparency of DHS, which has provided no details as to how this might be accomplished.

It is difficult to understand why this decision has been made at a time when Haiti is experiencing increasing political unrest and rising criminal activity. Placing the additional burden of dealing with these deportees on already overwhelmed Haitian government officials at this time is a bad decision.

Also troubling is the fact that the week before Christmas, DHS began raiding Haitian communities in Florida, detaining and transferring about 100 Haitians to remote detention centers in Louisiana. This has separated them not only from family members in the U.S., but also from their lawyers and legal service providers. In effect, they have been spirited away from those who love them and those who could provide aid to them. Among those detained are Haitians who committed extremely minor infractions years ago, served their time and were released for good behavior.  Those detained also include several mentally ill individuals, several sick and disabled individuals, and the parents of U.S. citizen children.

We call on 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 for clarity on 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.

Please use the form/link below to stand with us to tell Secretary Napolitano and the Obama Administration that now is not the time to deport Haitians to Haiti. Urge President Obama to review this policy for the good of the Haitian people and for the good of those deported

>> TAKE ACTION NOW <<

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