Letter sent on March 10, 2011 to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in response to ICE's proposed Policy for Resumed Removals to Haiti.
"Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Haiti believes that no one should be deported to Haiti at this time.
In 2008-2009 MCC Haiti, through our partner organizations, sat on the National Consultation Panel for Deportee Issues, hosted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded in part by U.S. government funding. Although no longer active, the panel produced concrete policy recommendations for the re-integration of deportees to Haiti, which the Haitian government has yet to implement. At that time, Haitian deportees were subjected to horrific detention conditions once they arrived in Haiti. Those conditions have only been exacerbated by the January 2010 earthquake and ongoing cholera epidemic.
Haiti does not currently possess the economic capacity to absorb deportees and has no system in place for reintegrating deportees into Haitian society. Until comprehensive immigration reform can take place and Haiti’s economic situation improves, deportation will continue to be a destabilizing factor for Haiti.
In addition, deportations to Haiti violate international human rights standards such as the right to life, the right to family integrity and the right to fair and due process.
Conditions in Haiti are dire; 1 million Haitians remain homeless and living in tents or under tarps in and around Port au Prince. Lack of food, water, and other necessities is an ongoing crisis throughout Haiti. The cholera epidemic has infected more than 231,000 people and claimed approximately 4,500 lives, so far. No one should be deported into these conditions. Cholera is widely present in Haitian police station holding facilities and lack of functioning toilets, crowded conditions and other factors make contracting cholera more likely. These conditions led to the tragic death of Wildrick Guerrier, who was deported by the US on January 20, 2011.
ICE’s characterization of deportees is at odds with the testimonies given by deportees, in the media and elsewhere. Some of the deportees are convicted of minor drug offenses or misdemeanors; others did not even receive jail time in the US. ICE’s claim that it needed to resume deportations because it could no longer legally hold these men and women in detention is also misleading. Most of those currently facing deportation were Haitians who had served their time years ago and were living law abiding lives in their communities as legal residents in the US and who were suddenly and unexpectedly rounded up before the holidays in December.
ICE has rounded up many Haitians who had served their time years ago and were living as legal residents in the US.
Many of those awaiting deportation have family members, including dependent children, who are US citizens in the US. Many deportees lack family or any loved ones in Haiti. Deportees who have spent a significant amount of time in the United States face intense culture shock upon returning to Haiti. They tend to speak little Creole and no French. They also face considerable stigmatization in Haiti, are labeled as criminals and are regularly discriminated against and often violently mistreated by the Haitian National Police.
Until conditions in Haiti are improved and there are sufficient policies and programs in place to assist deportees in reintegrating, it is this organization's opinion that ICE should not continue with plans to resume deportations to Haiti."
You can contact President Obama regarding this issue here.