A report documenting the failure of the United States to safeguard the human rights of those it deports to post-earthquake Haiti has been released by the Human Rights and Immigration Clinics at the University of Miami School of Law and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago School of Law. The report asks the U.S. government to stop deporting Haitians with criminal records until conditions improve and makes additional recommendations to the U.S., Haiti, and the international community, including the extension of Temporary Protected Status to all Haitian nationals.
Speaking at the news conference will be Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, author of the award-winning novel Brother, I’m Dying, and the foreword to the report.
The law school clinics collaborated with Alternative Chance/Chans Alternativ, Americans for Immigrant Justice, Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti to conduct extensive fact-finding about the treatment of men and women who were deported on account of past criminal convictions, including interviews with more than 100 deportees.
“We hope this report moves the U.S. government to stop deportations to Haiti,” said Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of FANM. “Post-earthquake Haiti is unable to safely receive deportees.” These deportees face violence, discrimination, lack of access to medical and mental health care, and an inability to find adequate employment and housing.
“In post-earthquake Haiti, deportees from the U.S. face tent cities, deadly cholera, broken homes, and broken hearts,” said Michelle Karshan, founder of Alternative Chance. “Barriers such as lack of language and family support, and insufficient medical or mental health care and medicine, leaves deportees lost and at risk of death.”
Deportations to Haiti affect deportees as well as the family left behind in the U.S., imposing severe financial and psychological strain on the spouses and children of deportees. “The government has taken away my father, my best friend,” said a teenage girl profiled in the report whose father was deported after the earthquake.
Due to the tragic consequences of the 2010 earthquake, the U.S. granted TPS to eligible Haitians, allowing them to stay in the U.S. temporarily. Excluded from protection under TPS are individuals convicted of two misdemeanors or one felony. As a result, over the past five years, the U.S. has forcibly returned approximately 1,500 men and women, including parents of U.S. citizen children, people with severe medical and mental health conditions, and those with only minor criminal records.
“This report would not have been possible without deportees willing to share their stories of the almost insurmountable obstacles they face in post-earthquake Haiti,” said Geoffrey Louden, a third-year law student at UM School of Law, who traveled to Haiti in October and worked on the report. “We urge policymakers to listen.”
The report is available for download at: http://www.law.miami.edu/
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