Homeland Security announces deportation of 30,300 Haitians

A US federal judge has placed 30,299 Haitians under final deportation orders, the US government announced the week of Feb. 16. The government suspended deportations of Haitians living in the US in September, after four tropical storms ravaged Haiti in one month, devastating crops and killing at least 800 people; the US resumed deportations in December. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau was only holding about 600 of the deportable Haitians as of Feb. 9; 243 others were being monitored with electronic ankle bracelets. The government says it expects the other Haitians with deportation orders to leave voluntarily. Otherwise, they will be sought by “fugitive alien teams,” according to ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez.

Some immigrant advocates who worked for the election of US president Barack Obama “are dismayed by growing reports of Haitians being deported to the hurricane-wrecked island,” according to the St. Petersburg Times. Meanwhile, the government of Haitian president René Préval has been blocking the deportations by telling consular officials in the US not to provide travel documents. As a result deportations have dropped by 89% from about 156 a month before the storms to about 17 a month now. But this means that more Haitians are forced either to await deportation in detention centers or to arrange their own travel documents. (The Journal News, Lower Hudson Valley, NY, Feb. 21; Palm Beach Post, Feb. 16 from Florida Sun-Sentinel; St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 21)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 22

See our last posts on Haiti and the politics of immigration.