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Opinion

A Coalition of more than 100 groups demand Trump stop deportations to Haiti

We the undersigned are concerned about the health and human rights of Haitian immigrants and denounce the Trump Administration’s deportation of 61 Haitian Nationals on April 7, 2020, from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers. 

We the undersigned demand that the Trump Administration halt all deportations to Haiti during the coronavirus pandemic.  More deportations to Haiti are scheduled for the coming days and weeks. Rather than be deported where they face serious harm if they fall ill and risk infecting thousands of others, they should be released from detention into the care of their friends and families so that they may safely quarantine, especially those who are more vulnerable to serious complications from the virus due to age, medical condition or other factors.

We are deeply concerned that all detainees in ICE detention centers have a high risk of exposure to coronavirus.  Dozens of immigration detainees and ICE agents in often-overcrowded detention facilities across the country have tested positive for COVID-19. While states across the country mandate social distancing, in many of the detention centers over 100 detainees live in one dorm room and share only a few toilets.  Detainees have minimal access to medical care, COVID tests, soap or hand sanitizer. Given these conditions, detainees are at high risk of both contracting and dying from COVID-19.

However, reducing overcrowding in detention centers does not mean that ICE should deport detainees without proper removal proceedings in the midst of the largest global pandemic of our lifetimes.  John Sandweg, Former acting director of ICE, concedes that ICE detention centers “are extremely susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases” and recommends that the Trump Administration “release the thousands of nonviolent, low-flight-risk detainees currently in ICE custody.” 

We are also concerned that Haiti’s fragile government, almost non-existent healthcare system and close, impoverished living conditions would make it challenging to contain and treat a massive surge of COVID-19 cases.  According to a local nonprofit, as a result of international policy and government inaction, Haiti has only 39 physicians to manage COVID-19, 124 ICU beds and the capacity to ventilate 62 people in a country of 11 million people.  Community spread of the disease, 47 cases and three deaths have been reported. These numbers are likely to be far higher, as only 498 tests had been reportedly administered to date. 

It’s unclear how the U.S. government could justify deportations when last month it issued a level 4 travel advisory for Haiti, labeling Haiti as dangerous as conflict zones such as Afghanistan, South Sudan and Somalia.  But the deportation on April 7 falls in line with the U.S. government’s long history of discrimination and poor treatment against Haitians. 

For over 200 years, Haiti has tried to be a friend to the U.S., but the U.S. has never had Haiti’s best interest.  Haitians continue to pay for winning their independence from France in a slave rebellion in 1804, and for abolishing slavery.  The U.S. did not recognize Haiti’s statehood until 1862, 58 years after it declared independence. In 1915-34, the U.S. Marines illegally invaded and occupied Haiti, seized control of the Haitian National Bank and amended the constitution to allow foreign land ownership.  More recently, the U.S. financially and diplomatically supported the Duvalier dictatorship from 1957-86, supported the overthrow of democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and meddled in multiple recent elections.

The U.S. immigration prison system as we know it today started in the 1990s when the Coast Guard collected tens of thousands of Haitian refugees and imprisoned them in Guantanamo Bay.  Guantanamo was known as the “HIV prison camp” because of the poor treatment of HIV positive Haitian refugees, who were wrongly blamed for the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.

President Donald Trump promised to be a champion for Haitian-Americans on his campaign trail in South Florida in 2016, but this president too has disregarded the rights and dignity of Haitians.  President Trump notoriously referred to Haiti as a sh*ithole country in 2018, and terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians despite evidence from his own State Department that Haiti was unprepared to receive deportees due to a severe housing shortage and public health crisis following the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew and a cholera epidemic brought by United Nations peacekeeping soldiers.  

In the words of The Miami Herald Editorial Board, “Deportations despite coronavirus is Trump’s cruel, and usual, punishment of Haitians.”  

We proudly stand in solidarity with our Haitian sisters and brothers and urge the Trump Administration to immediately take the following actions:

• Halt all deportations of Haitian Nationals back to Haiti;

• Release immigrants from detention maximizing use of humanitarian parole, release on recognizance, and where necessary, community-based alternatives to detention, following medical screening and in a manner consistent with public health protocols on COVID-19; and

• Coordinate with local groups to ensure housing and transportation upon release, and avoid holding asylum seekers in enclosed or densely populated spaces.

Signed,

1. A. Philip Randolph Institute

2. African Advocacy Network (AAN)

3. Adelanto Visitation Network

4. Adhikaar

5. Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention

6. African Communities Together

7. Al Oltro Lado

8. Alianza Americas

9. Alkalay Law Office

10. Alternative Chance

11. AME-SADA, INC.

12. America’s Voice

13. Americans for Immigrant Justice

14. Association of Haitian Professionals (AHP)

15. Baptist Peace fellowship of North America

16. Beyond Borders

17. Black Alliance for Immigration Justice (BAJI)

18. Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project (BLMP)

19. Brooklyn Defender Services

20. Cabinet d’Avocats Spécialisés en Litige Stratégique des Droits Humains (CASLSDH)

21. Cameroon American Council

22. CARECEN-LA

23. Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS)

24. Church World Service (CWS Global)

25. Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice

26. CLUE-Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice

27. Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)

28. Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

29. Coalition on Human Needs

30. Community Justice Exchange – National Bail Fund Network

31. Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes

32. Consortium for a Haiti that Works (CHW)

33. Communist Party USA (CPUSA)

34. Crossing Borders – Dubuque

35. CUNY

36. Defenseurs Plus

37. Democratic Socialists of America – Los Angeles

38. Disaster Law Project

39. Dominican Development Center, Inc.

40. Dominican Sister of Mission San Jose

41. Dominican Sisters of Houston

42. Dominican Sisters of Tacoma

43. Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti

44. Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement

45. Families Belong Together

46. Families For Freedom

47. First Friends of NJ & NY

48. Floaves Inc

49. Fondasyon Mapou

50. Four Freedoms Forum

51. Franciscan Sisters of the Poor

52. Freedom for Immigrants

53. FWD.us

54. Gender Action

55. Grassroots International

56. Haiti Justice Alliance

57. Haiti Justice Committee

58. Haiti Justice Committee of Minnesota

59. Haiti Partners

60. Haiti Support Network

61. Haitian-American Community Coalition, Inc. (HCC)

62. Haitian Americans United for Progress, Inc. (HAUP)

63. Haitian Bridge Alliance

64. Haitian Educators League for Progress

65. Haitian Studies Association

66. Hastings to Haiti Partnership

67. Healthworks Ending Detention

68. Holy Names Sisters

69. Holy Union Sisters

70. Hope Border Institute

71. Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

72. Immaculate Heart Community

73. Immigrant and Refugee Committee, Sisters of the Most Precious Blood

74. Immigrant Defenders Law Center

75. Immigrant Legal Defense

76. Immigrants List

77. Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice

78. Innovation Law Lab

79. Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)

80. Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center

81. International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School

82. Jerusalem Agape SDA Church

83. Jewish Community Action

84. Justice For Our Neighbors Houston

85. KODESOLD

86. Kriyol Dance Collective

87. La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE)

88. LA Voice

89. Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center

90. Latin America Working Group (LAWG)

91. Leadership Conference of Women Religious

92. Li, Li, Li! Read

93. MADRE

94. Make the Road NY

95. Matthew 25

96. Minnesota Immigrants Rights Action Network (MIRAC)

97. Minority Humanitarian Foundation

98. Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights

99. National Conference of Black Lawyers

100. National Immigrant Justice Center

101. National Justice for Our Neighbors

102. National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)

103. National Lawyers Guild (NLG)

104. National Lawyers Guild Central Arizona

105. National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights

106. New Sanctuary Coalition

107. Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors

108. New York State Association for Bilingual Education (NYSABE)

109. Ohio Immigrant Alliance

110. Orange County Equality Coalition

111. Partners In Health

112. Pax Christi Ayiti

113. Poder Latinx

114. Presbyterian Church USA

115. Priority Africa Network

116. Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

117. Project Blueprint

118. Project South

119. Quixote Center

120. Reformed Church of Highland Park

121. Refugee Support Network

122. Religious of Jesus and Mary

123. Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH)

124. Resilience Orange County

125. Resources to Resources

126.  Rian Immigrant Center

127. RLM Art Studio/Drawing the Line

128. Salesians of Don Bosco

129. Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund

130. San Antonio Region Justice For Our Neighbors

131. Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center

132. School Sisters of Notre Dame

133. School Sisters of Notre Dame Atlantic Midwest Province

134. School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Pacific Province

135. Schools of the America Watch (SOAW) East Bay, California

136. Sequoia Potential

137. Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN)

138. Sinsinawa Dominican Associates

139. Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

140. Sister of Charity of Leavenworth

141. Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross USA Province

142. Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

143. Sisters of St. Joseph

144. Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange

145. Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood NY Office of Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation

146. Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, LA Province

147. Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus & Mary

148. Sisters of the Living Word

149. Still Waters Anti-trafficking Program

150. Society of the Holy Child Jesus, American Province

151. South Texas Human Rights Center

152. SFV Indivisible

153. The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)

154. The Haitian Women’s Collective

155. The Legal Aid Society (New York)

156. The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

157. Transforming Justice Orange County

158. UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic

159. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

160. United We Dream

161. Venice Resistance

162.  Witness at the Border

163. Women For Orange County

164. Woodhull Freedom Foundation

Samuel Louis

Samuel Louis

Samuel Louis is a young Haitian student that loves to write and learn. He’s passionate about people and culture and finds comfort in knowledge. As a writer for Haitian Times, he looks forward to opening his horizons about journalism, while doing what he loves.
Samuel Louis
Apr. 22, 2020

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