The U.S. Department of Homeland and Security has a warning to undocumented
Haitians en route to its southwestern border with Mexico — turn
around. Otherwise, you will be deported back to Haiti.
After a six-year moratorium on deportations to the earthquake-scarred country,
the Obama administration is resuming them, citing “improved conditions
in Haiti” since the devastatingJan. 12, 2010, earthquake and “a significant increase in Haitians arriving at the Southwest
border in San Diego, Calif.”
“The United States has recently witnessed a sharp increase in the
number of Haitian nationals taking dangerous smuggling routes to apply
for admission to our country in the San Diego, Calif., area without advance
authorization,” said an official with DHS, which announced the policy
In fiscal year 2015, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol only apprehended
339 Haitians at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the world’s busiest
border crossing, officials said. But that number jumped sharply from Oct.
1, 2015, to Sept. 4, with officials processing more than 5,000 Haitians
at the California entry point, overwhelming the facility, which is undergoing
“Effective immediately, enforcement decisions with respect to Haitian
nationals should be consistent with the practice regarding
other nationalities,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
At the top of the deportation list are those apprehended at the U.S. borders
or ports of entry that do not possess a credible fear of persecution or
torture; convicted felons and those convicted of significant or multiple
misdemeanors; and an estimated 2,000 Haitians with a final order of deportation
already issued by a U.S. immigration judge.
Haitian nationals currently covered by Temporary Protected Status, an immigration
benefit granted to tens of thousands a day after the earthquake, are not
affected by the policy change. But the policy change will affect
as many as 40,000 Haitiansin transit through other Central and South American nations from Brazil
to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The announcement comes less than three weeks before Haiti’s Oct.
9 re-do of its controversial first-round elections. The possibility of
having thousands of Haitians repatriated on the eve of the vote has raised
concerns of its impact on elections, and also on Haiti’s unstable
economic and political environment.
THE SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM IS TO CREATE NEW CONDITIONS, NEW OPPORTUNITIES
FOR PEOPLE TO WORK.
Interim Haiti President Jocelerme Privert
Warned of the policy shift ahead of Thursday’s announcement, Haitian
government officials said that while they are prepared to receive those
sent back, they will not accept them under all conditions.
Interim President Jocelerme Privert, who met President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the United Nations’
General Assembly in New York Tuesday, told the Miami Herald that the issue
of migration was raised during their brief exchange. While the flow of
Haitians wasn’t raised specifically, Privert said he knows that
it’s a concern for many of Haiti’s neighbors.
“The solution to this problem is to create new conditions, new opportunities
for people to work,” he said, noting that he recently created a
commission in Port-au-Prince to look at the matter, including how to handle
repatriations. “That requires political stability and elections
that are honest, transparent and credible, which is what I am working
The perilous journeys, which start in Brazil, have taxed not just U.S.
Customs and Border Patrol officials at the San Ysidro border entry near
San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, but also “the capacities of the governments
they’ve been transiting through.”
A Haitian-American activist who has been assisting newly arriving Haitians
in San Diego had one word for the new policy: “Heartbroken,”
said Guerline Jozef.
“Turn them back to what?” she asked. “The people risk
their lives to get here in hope of a better life.”
In Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, a few dozen community activists,
religious leaders and residents gathered Thursday afternoon at the office
for Haitian Women of Miami to speak out against the policy shift.
Father Reginald Jean-Mary, pastor at Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic
Church, told reporters he didn’t see the logic in sending Haitian
migrants back when the country is still rebuilding: “Haiti is not
ready to welcome deportees.”
Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, spoke of
a recent trip to San Diego to interview Haitian migrants at the border,
who have traveled across countries trying to get to U.S. soil —
people who will now be turned away.
“They see and smell death at every step of the way,” she said.
DHS officials said that if Haitians, who are in transit, do not want to
be repatriated to Haiti, they should return to Brazil, which in the aftermath
of the earthquake gave Haitians special residency status for them to live,
work and receive social services.
“Haitian nationals report that they are leaving Brazil in light of
the economic downturn and lack of jobs,” a DHS official said. “We
cannot remove folks coming from Brazil to Brazil without the cooperation
of the Brazilian authorities. We are only able to remove them to Haiti. “
Earlier this week, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela raised the
issue with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, seeking his assistance
with what he calls, “another migration crisis.” In May, Varela
closed his Central American nation’s border with Colombia, stranding
Haitian migrants along with others from as far away as Africa in Turbo,
the last city before arriving in Panama.
WE ARE CONCERNED FOR THE SAFETY OF ALL MIGRANTS THROUGHOUT THE REGION —
INCLUDING HAITIAN MIGRANTS — WHO MAKE DANGEROUS JOURNEYS TO REACH
THE MEXICO-U.S. BORDER.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís, who met last month with
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House, raised the issue
in his General Assembly speech. About 80 to 85 percent of migrants stranded
on Costa Rica’s northern border because they have run out of money
or are trying to find a smuggler to get them through Nicaragua —
which closed its border — are Haitian, he has said.
“It’s very difficult for us to handle the situation,”
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González told McClatchy news.
“It’s very costly. Our communities, rural communities where
they are located, are a bit tired after what happened with the Cubans
who stayed here for about five months.”
State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said the administration is committed
to working with regional governments on a coordinated solution.
“We are concerned for the safety of all migrants throughout the region
— including Haitian migrants — who make dangerous journeys
to reach the Mexico-U.S. border,” Toner said. “Our region
faces the shared challenge of irregular migration for which we need shared
Randy McGrorty, an attorney and executive director of Catholic Legal Services
of the Archdiocese of Miami, said the resumption of deportations was disheartening
and that the timing was bad. Citing humanitarian concerns, the Obama administration
halted deportations on Jan. 13, 2010, a day after Haiti’s earthquake
left 1.5 million homeless, more than 300,000 dead and an equal number injured.
“I don’t think Haiti is in any condition to receive deportees.
This is way too soon with the situation,” McGrorty said. “Progress
has been made, butit’s still a mess. The political situation is incredibly unstable. And on the eve of
our election? It’s a problem.”
Doris Meissner, a former Immigration and Naturalization Services commissioner
and current fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, said the success
of the policy shift will depend on the Haitian government, which hasn’t
always been easy to work with when it comes to accepting returnees.
“It will most likely take some time to work out the mechanics of
doing it,” she said.
Although Meissner stopped short of calling the Haitian surge “a crisis,”
she said “it’s the kind of thing you have to jump on pretty
quickly when it gets past the very small numbers. Once it gets to to be
a couple of thousand, it’s a different thing. These things can become
a new pattern quite quickly.”
Read more here:
REVILLA LAW FIRM, P.A.
Miami Immigration and Deportation Defense Lawyers
For any immigration issue, contact our Miami immigration attorneys today
to schedule a Free In-Office Consultation.
Call (305) 858-2323 or toll free (877) 854-2323.
We represent clients in all areas of immigration law. Even though our immigration
law firm is based in Miami, we can represent you anywhere in the United States.