Miami, FL – October 9, 2016 – On September 22, 2016, the Obama Administration announced it was resuming Haitian deportations and new arrivals would face expedited removal. Countless Haitians who made it to the border since the policy change are currently in ICE custody in the San Diego area. Meanwhile, roughly 7000 Haitians without TPS who were released before the policy change now face detention and deportation. Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) represents a number of these Haitians, who currently have work permits and are terrified of return.

The abrupt change in policy came amid US State Department travel warnings for Haiti and the country’s growing political and economic instability. At the time of the announcement, Haiti was still fighting to recover from the 2010 earthquake and dealing with a raging cholera epidemic. “As bad as the situation in Haiti was on September 22, it’s clearly worse now and deporting Haitians in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew would be unnecessarily cruel and inhumane. The September 22 decision needs to be reversed immediately and there should be a re-designation of TPS,” AI Justice Executive Director Cheryl Little noted. The US government can re-designate TPS and the Haitian government can also request this temporary relief from removal.

According to CBP, from October 1, 2015 to September 4, 2016 over 5,000 Haitians were apprehended at our border, up from 339 Haitians without visas who crossed in FY 2015.  In the first 10 months of FY 2016 alone, about 47,000 Cubans entered the US, up from over 24,000 in FY 2015. Cubans arriving at our border are routinely admitted or paroled by US officials, allowing them to apply for green cards a year later.

This is a painful reminder to the Haitian community of the existing double standard of treatment.  In many ways the situation in Haiti today is worse than in Cuba. Even before Hurricane Matthew, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned Haiti’s dysfunctional government and noted the relatively weak humanitarian response to Haiti’s raging cholera epidemic.

Haitians arriving at our border, including women and children, have undertaken a perilous journey in hope of reaching safety, traveling on foot, by bus and over water for 3-4 months. Many were robbed, beaten and raped during the trip and some have even died. Since the recent policy change, families have been forcibly separated and countless Haitians are being displaced with little hope for the future.

“The road to justice for Haitians continues to be a long, arduous one.  Recently, Obama spoke to the United Nations General Assembly about the urgent need to help refugees, yet today Haitians in our own back yard are being shut out,” Little added.

Deportations to Haiti were suspended following the 2010 earthquake. Thankfully, Haitians already granted TPS are not affected by the Administration’s troubling recent decision.