Activists Say Haitian Deportations Need to Stop
February 19, 2015
The Miami Herald
Human rights groups held a news conference Thursday to discuss the report, Aftershocks: The Human Impact of U.S. Deportations to Post-Earthquake Haiti, which documents the experiences people with criminal records have after being deported to post-earthquake Haiti. The report also makes recommendations to the U.S., Haiti and international communities.
The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti killed up to 300,000 people and left one in seven homeless, according to the report. Damages totaled $9 billion, more than Haiti’s 2009 GDP of $7 billion, the report says. Haitians who were in the U.S. were given Temporary Protected Status, meaning they could stay in the country until conditions improved in their country. The status has been renewed through 2016.
But those with one felony or two misdemeanors lose that protection.
Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, known for her award-winning novel Brother, I’m Dying, wrote the foreword to the report. She spoke Thursday about the obstacles Haitians face when they are deported.
“I’m here to show my support for the families of the deportees who are sort of the weight of what happens,” Danticat said. “They suffer the consequences of these deportations.”
Danticat talked about the “heartbreaking” stories of those “left behind,” when a member of their family, often the breadwinner, is deported.
“They are left flailing, left struggling,” she said. “For me, it’s also about the future, about whether we are creating another layer of problems by separating these families when in many cases there are alternatives.”
The nearly 70-page report was put together by the Human Rights and Immigration Clinics at the University of Miami School of Law and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago School of Law.