Photo: Deportation of Haitians during Cholera Epidemic
Days after the tragedy of the January 12, 2010, earthquake, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano swiftly exercised her discretion to designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This enabled tens of thousands of Haitians already in the U.S. to apply for work permits and remain in the country without fear of deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suspended removals to Haiti - including more than 1,000 Haitian orphans who were paroled into the U.S. for adoption by American parents.
At the end of 2010, however, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hit a fork in the road. While gearing up for the final push before the mid-January 2011 TPS registration deadline – historically the time when the largest number of individuals register – ICE informally announced that it was resuming deportations to Haiti in December and anticipated deporting approximately 700 Haitians by year’s end. Over 300 Haitians were quickly rounded up, transported to remote detention centers in Louisiana far from their attorneys and family members, and prepared for removal. Despite a raging cholera epidemic (especially in the detention centers where Haitian deportees are routinely held), the first planeload of 27 Haitians was sent back on January 15, 2011. Ten days later, Wildrick Guerrier - a lawful permanent resident who had lived in the U.S. for 17 years - died of cholera-like symptoms in a Haitian jail cell. ICE deported a second group of 19 Haitians on April 15.
While the U.S. doesn’t typically suspend all removals to a TPS-designated country for more than a brief period, doesn’t Haiti’s extensive earthquake damage and recent cholera outbreak arguably make it an exception to the rule? What more can be done and what alternatives are there to deportation in the time of cholera? Today, the Immigration Policy Center released Deportation in the Time of Cholera: DHS’s Mixed Response to Haiti’s Earthquake by Royce Bernstein Murray, Esq. to answer some of those very questions.