Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson Responds to the Resumption of Deportation Flights to Haiti
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson today released the following statement in response to the resumption of deportation flights to Haiti:
“It is very disheartening to learn that the Department of Homeland Security has resumed deportation flights to Haiti. Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wisely put a hold on these flights to give the battered nation time to begin its recovery from the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew.
“I visited Haiti on October 29 and can unequivocally say that little has changed in the five weeks since the Category 4 storm hit an already vulnerable nation. More than a million people are in yet another fight for their lives in the aftermath of yet another natural disaster that has compounded the damage caused by the 2010 earthquake.
“The people DHS will remove are not criminals and are in fact hard-working people who are contributing to the economies of both Haiti and the United States. The bottom line, however, is that Haiti is not equipped to care for the planned biweekly arrival of deportees or to provide the resources they will need to rebuild their lives.
“Last month, I led more than 50 House Democrats and Republicans in a letter to President Obama urging him to delay the deportations and to also hold full and fair asylum hearings, effective counsel and other forms of relief. I also have urged the administration to redesignate Haiti’s temporary protective status that will expire next July to include Haitians already in the United States and to expand the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, which promotes safe and legal migration to the U.S.
“I plan to work with my congressional colleagues and advocates once again to further engage the administration on these critical issues. As Secretary Johnson stated when he initially suspended the deportation flights, Haiti still needs our sympathies and support.”
NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — US Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke has urged the Obama administration to immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians.
“Earlier today (Wednesday), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that removal proceedings have resumed for Haitian nationals in the United States who lack Temporary Protected Status (TPS),” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).“The majority of the people DHS intends to remove have not been accused of any crime”.
According to Clarke, the deportations will “return thousands of Haitians to a country that continues to struggle with the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and the recent outbreak of cholera that was introduced by international aid workers responding to the 2010 earthquake”.
“This will only exacerbate the difficulties of rebuilding Haiti and deny families access to remittances from relatives in the United States,” added the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.
“I am deeply saddened that these deportations have resumed, and I call on President Obama and his administration to end this policy immediately”.
On November 2, Clarke, with 13 of congressional colleagues, urged Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, to suspend the removal of Haitians who have not been convicted of a serious crime or otherwise present a threat to US national security.
Last week, two major Haitian Diaspora groups in New York launched an online petition requesting that Obama also immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians in the wake of the massive destruction caused to the French-speaking Caribbean country by Hurricane Matthew a month ago.
The New York-based Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora on Friday launched the petition, saying that they are hoping to build awareness to support it, which, on receiving 100,000 signatures, will require an official response from the White House.
“This petition is to urge President Barack Obama to grant Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED), expand and/or Re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals, including recently arrived individuals who are currently threatened with deportation, based on the devastation of Hurricane Matthew,” the petition says.
It notes that Hurricane Matthew “violently struck Haiti and resulted in the country’s largest humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake”.
The petition says Matthew caused extensive damage, leaving more than 2.1 million people at risk of food insecurity, homelessness, and increase cholera and other diseases.
“It is currently impractical, unsafe and inhumane to deport people into the country at this time,” the petition says. “Haitians are hardworking, law-abiding, contribute to the US economy, as well as supporting their families via remittances”.
“I want you to know that, in partnership with the Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora, I am supporting an online petition to the White House requesting the President Obama halt the deportation of Haitian nationals, which will allow critical resources in the form of remittances to fund the recovery in Haiti,” Clarke said.
“If we obtain 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the community will receive an official response from the White House,” said Clarke, whose Brooklyn district has the second largest concentration of Haitians in the US. Miami is reported to have the highest.
In late September, Clarke expressed deep concern about the DHS’ decision to resume the deportation of undocumented Haitian immigrants.
The passage of Hurricane Matthew, a month ago, has further exacerbated Haiti’s plight, prompting the Haitian Diaspora group to launch the online petition, supported by Clarke.
The United Nations also warned that, while it seems as if “the world has moved on,” Haiti’s needs remain vast. The UN said this is exemplified by the nearly 600,000 children being stalked by disease, hunger and malnutrition, and in need of assistance.