By Luis F. Perez | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Deportation flights to Haiti resumed last week after a more than two-month halt, enraging activists and South Florida congressional leaders.
In September, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stopped deporting immigrants to Haiti in the wake of four tropical storms that ravaged the country. Advocates argued that the battered country couldn’t absorb returning countrymen as it dealt with storm damage.
“We fully expected to resume deportation flights when it was safe,” said Nicole Navas, an ICE spokeswoman. “And we made a determination that it was appropriate to resume deportation based on the conditions on the ground.”
Advocates say things are getting worse, not better. Schools are collapsing. Children are malnourished. The country’s infrastructure is obliterated, they said
“After dealing with this administration on Haitian issues for eight years, I’m forced to conclude that its policy toward Haiti is based on racism,” said Randy McGrorty, director of Catholic Charities Legal Services for the Archdiocese of Miami.
“It shocking. People are starving in Haiti. This callous disregard for human life is inexplicable.”
In a joint prepared statement, U.S. Representatives Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Robert Wexler, D-, called the decision to start deportation again “short-sighted and inhumane.”
“Many deported Haitians simply have no communities to return to,” they said. “It is disappointing that the Bush Administration would even consider sending people back to this incredibly fragile nation.”
McGrorty said advocates plan to meet Wednesday to talk about how they may again stop the deportations.