The Crescent Report

December 15, 2010

MAS Freedom Condemns U.S. Government’s Decision to Resume Deportations to Haiti amid Soaring Cholera Outbreak and Deteriorating Humanitarian Conditions

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 3:35 pm

Introduction

The situation at Haiti continues to deteriorate and now it looks as if US Immigration is piling on. Check the piece below.

Imam Mahdi Bray

Quote for the day: “Wish nothing for you Brother that you wouldn’t wish for yourself.”

 

MAS Freedom Condemns U.S. Government’s Decision to Resume Deportations to Haiti amid Soaring Cholera Outbreak and Deteriorating Humanitarian Conditions

 

Deportations for Criminal Convictions Could Violate Obligations under Convention against Torture

 

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced on December 9 that it has lifted the ban on deportations to Haiti for persons with criminal convictions. Deportations to Haiti have been stayed since shortly after the January 12, 2010 earthquake devastated the country. ICE announced it has also ended the policy of releasing detainees with orders of removal after 90 days, which could result in their indefinite, unreasonable and arbitrary detention. Last week, 89 Haitian nationals were arrested and detained with the intent to deport them.

MAS-Freedom joins the Center for Constitutional Rights plea to stop these removals and supports its appeals to the Department of Homeland Security.  Khalilah Sabra, the director of the MAS-Freedom Immigration Justice Clinic director, stated that “An influx of up to 30,000 homeless and jobless people — the number of Haitians facing deportation from the United States- will only add to the destabilization of Haiti as the country still struggles to recover from the catastrophic earthquake of January, 2010. It seems as if the word “humanitarian” is u8sed in a way that does not take into account the real needs of the Haitian people, including considerations about immigration status.

“To call for deportation and then claim to be assisting the Haitians is inhumane. This decision by ICE to resume the deportation of Haitian refugees is unconscionable As ICE is well aware, conditions in Haiti may even be worse now than they were in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. “As that agency is well aware, the situation in Haiti has not improved and may be even worse now than when the deportations were halted in the weeks after the devastating earthquake.”

The people of Haiti are now in the grip of a worsening cholera outbreak that has spread to the very prisons where those deported may be detained. The practice in Haiti, even before the earthquake, has been to detain many deportees from the United States in holding centers that lack adequate sanitation, security, and medical facilities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Haiti recently reported that the cholera epidemic is spreading through Haiti’s crowded prisons, and numerous prisoners have already died. Groups working on the ground in Haiti have also reported that untreated water is being given to prisoners, which could further hasten the spread of cholera.  

Under United States law and the international Convention Against Torture, to which the U.S. is a signatory, the U.S. is not permitted to remove anyone from U.S. jurisdiction when it can be shown that it is “more likely than not that he or she would be tortured if removed to the proposed country of removal.”  U.S. courts have previously held that removing people who are HIV-positive to Haiti, where they would be detained in deplorable conditions and unable to obtain necessary medication could, in some circumstances, be a violation under U.S. laws implementing CAT.

Ironically, on the same day ICE announced this new policy, December 9, 2010, the U.S. State department issued a travel warning recommending against any non-essential travel to Haiti due to “continued high crime, the cholera outbreak, frequent disturbances in Port-au-Prince and in provincial cities, and limited police protection and access to medical care.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, and Alternative Chance, all call on ICE to halt roundups and detentions of Haitian nationals in the U.S. and to continue the stay on deportations.  Also, the Center for Constitutional Rights specifically calls on ICE to release more information about this new policy and, to explain what assessment was conducted of the circumstances in Haiti prior to the change in policy.

MAS Freedom urges you to contact Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, (write to her at Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington D.C. 20528 or call (866) 347-2423) and call upon her to stay, on humanitarian grounds ‘all’ deportations to Haiti.  For more information, please contact MAS Freedom at info@masfreedom.org or 1-888-627-8471.

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