Haitian community leaders say they are
disappointed with a U.S. policy of repatriating Haitians who are here illegally back to the troubled Caribbean nation.
Last week, U.S. immigration authorities
ordered 30,000 Haitians to leave the country.
Haitian officials, however, say they’re not issuing Haitian passports needed to process most deportees, according to news wires.
“I think it is a tragedy that the Obama
administration chose to continue that policy despite the fact that [Haitian President René] Préval had made a plea not only to stop deportation but to afford Temporary Protection Status to Haitians because Haiti has been devastated by hurricanes and political
unrest,” said Ronald Aubourg, a member of
the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition.
Some deportees with Haitian passports
have returned to Haiti since Dec. 5, after a three-month break in deportations, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
But Haitian officials say the storm-batted Caribbean country needs time to recover in order to absorb the surging number of deportees.
Haiti took the stand after a series of brutal storms lashed the island last summer and
after repeatedly asking the United States for, and being denied, what’s known as temporary protected status. The status would allow Haitians in this country illegally to stay and
work temporarily. Haitian officials say the country needs to rebuild and can’t handle the return of its citizens.
The rip effect of four devastating storms: Deportations to Haiti dropped 89 percent,
from about 156 a month before the sum-
mer storms to 17 a month since October.
The 30,000 targeted deportees may include
Haitians who have missed court dates, Hai-
tians who have been denied political asylum,
people who lost an appeal and travelers who overstayed their tourist visa.
“We’re not processing travel documents
until further notice,” said Ralph LaTortue, the Haitian consul general in Miami.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement says the lack of travel documents means some deportees are spending more time in crowded detention centers.
According to ICE, about 600 Haitians
are being detained and 240 others are under house arrest and being monitored with electronic ankle bracelets.
Jocelyn McCalla, a development consul-
tant, said he is not surprised that immigration officials have continued to emphasize the enforcement aspect of immigration policy, a holdover from the Bush administration.
The Obama administration has not
addressed the issue of immigration. Instead, it has been consumed by America’s economic crisis. Furthermore, McCalla said he was not optimist that Haitians or other immigrant groups will galvanized around the issue and
push the Obama administration to change its immigration policy.
“I am not sure that Haitian-Americans
advocate in a way to push the Obama
administration to act [and stop deportations].
I haven’t seen much advocacy from the
immigration group,” McCalla said. “There
should be petitioning for signatures and
major efforts to lobby the White House to
obtain what they want.”
The deportation order has national reper-
cussions and is being hotly debated in large Haitian enclaves such as South Florida and New York.
“We understand the Obama administration
is focused on America’s economic trouble.
But we are asking him to stop the deportation — at least reinstate the stop-deportation order while awaiting a decision,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Fanm Ays-
yèn nan Miami, a grassroots group. Bastien said a march is planned for Friday Feb. 26.
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