As US President Barack Obama sent thousands of troops to help with the rescue efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti, Gen. Douglas Frazier, head of the Pentagon‘s Southern Command, indicated that the Naval medical facilities at Guantánamo Bay may be used to help with the relief efforts. Many of the refugees may be temporarily housed at Camp Justice, an area of the base where visitors such as reporters have generally stayed. The US State Department reported Jan. 13 that some injured Americans have already been transported to Guantanamo. (Jurist, Jan. 14)
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said deportations to Haiti would be halted “for the time being,” without specifying a time period. Immigration officials said it was clear they could be putting Haitians’ safety at risk by sending them back to a devastated country. About 30,000 Haitians in the US currently face deportation orders. (NYT, Jan. 13)
See our last posts on Haiti.
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Haitians at Gitmo
It has happened before. As Joseph Shahadi recalls on his blog Jan. 19:
Earlier, when Haitians were fleeing the Duvalier dictatorship in the ’80s, several thousand were housed at Florida’s Camp Krome. The later “America’s Mayor” Rudolph Giuliani was the Justice Department official who headed the internment program at the time. Camp Krome was again used to house smaller numbers of Haitian refugees in the anti-immigrant backlash following 9-11. Camp Krome still houses detained immigrants, and has in recent years been the scene of both human rights abuses and detainee protests.