Deportation of Haitian Immigrants to Post-Earthquake Haiti

The IHR Clinic, in partnership with the University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic and the University of Miami School of Law Immigration Clinic, researched and drafted part of a report documenting the rights abuses that many Haitian immigrants face after being deported from the United States to post-earthquake Haiti. The report is titled Aftershocks: The Human Impact of U.S. Deportations to Post-Earthquake Haiti.

The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti killed up to 300,000 people and left one in seven homeless. Haitian immigrants in the United States at the time were given Temporary Protected Status, allowing them to remain in the country until conditions in Haiti improved. The status has been renewed through 2016. Among other things, the report urges the U.S. government to extend this status beyond 2016. However, Haitians in the United States who have committed two misdemeanors or one felony are denied protected status and are deported to Haiti. Since the 2010 earthquake, at least 1,500 Haitian immigrants have been deported, some for having committed relatively minor offenses, such as failing to return a rental car in time and giving a police officer false information. Deportation tears apart families, often rendering relatives left in the United States without a primary breadwinner, and sends Haitians back to a country where human rights abuses are common, especially for deportees who are often targeted for discrimination. The report urges the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reverse its policy of deporting Haitians who have been convicted of two misdemeanors or a felony.

Many of the circumstances faced by Haitians deportees upon return to post-earthquate Haiti constitute violations of their human rights protected under domestic, regional and international law. For example, the report describes in detail the deplorable conditions in some of Haiti’s detention centers. In this regard, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement office has said it is working with the Haitian government and others to ensure removals are safe and humane. Nonetheless, in 2011, a Haitian refugee deported from the United States died 10 days later due to unsanitary conditions in a Haitian jail.

The report is available here.