Friday, January 21, 2011

US Deports Haitians Back to Hell

Photo by John Carroll

US deports first Haitians since earthquake
(AP) ­ January 21, 2011

MIAMI (AP) ‹ Immigration authorities repatriated 26 Haitians previously
convicted of crimes on Thursday, plus another man who was acquitted in a
2007 terror plot, the first such deportations since the Obama administration
halted them following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The deportations were immediately criticized by members of the
Haitian-American community and immigration advocates who say the Haitians
will face dire, inhumane conditions on their return.

"I think it's outrageous and it's inhumane and very insensitive," said
Marleine Bastien, executive director of the Haitian Women of Miami. "We are
outraged, really outraged."

An attorney for Lyglenson Lemorin, who was acquitted in 2007 of a plot to
destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago, confirmed the 35-year-old man was among
those deported.

Officials have said Lemorin remained a national security threat. Five others
were convicted in the case.

"Mr. Lemorin's removal is a high water mark in the injustice inherent in our
broken immigration system," Charles H. Kuck, his attorney, said. "Deporting
an innocent man should never be condoned."

Kuck is appealing the Lemorin's deportation.

In a statement, Barbara Gonzalez, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, said the removals were "consistent with ICE's priority
of removing aliens who pose a threat to public safety."

Gonzalez added that ICE will continue the deportations on a periodic basis.

Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center,
a nonprofit law firm, said the Haitian deportees were being sent back to a
"death trap."

"Why is it so urgent for the U.S. to deport Haitians when Haiti remains in
ruin?" she said.

According to the firm, deportees sent to Haiti who have a criminal history
are routinely held in inhumane jail conditions, not fed or provided medical

"Whether or not they have served a criminal sentence, no Haitian should be
sent to a cholera-infested jail where they risk death," the organization
said in a statement.

Haiti is still recovering from the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed an
estimated 316,000 people and a subsequent cholera epidemic that has killed
thousands and complicated recovery efforts. The tiny Caribbean nation is
also facing political instability following the disputed Nov. 28 first-round
presidential election.

On Sunday, former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier unexpectedly
returned after being forced into exile following a mass uprising nearly 25
years ago, sending shock waves through the country.

Duvalier took over the presidency after his father, Francois "Papa Doc"
Duvalier, died and ruled from 1971-1986 and has been accused of widespread
human rights abuses.

Bastien said her organization found out about the deportations after being
contacted by relatives of the repatriated Haitians. She said the families
are "devastated."

"There's a high chance that they will be detained in Haiti, and we are
really concerned about their safety," she said.

Florida State Rep. Daphne Campbell, whose district includes Miami's Little
Haiti, said she didn't wish to comment on the deportation of those convicted
of crimes, but that she did reach out to Vice President Joe Biden and
President Barack Obama in hopes of discussing immigration policy toward

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