Originally published in the Miami Herald by Monique O. Madan and Jacqueline Charles
Some U.S. lawmakers and immigration advocates are expressing outrage at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s decision to continue deportations to Haiti in the midst of the accelerating COVID-19 global pandemic, saying the decision “‘presents an unacceptable public health risk to both deportees on board and the citizens of Haiti.”
“This is so wrong,” Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat tweeted. He noted that the State Department’s own Level 4 travel warning for Haiti, issued weeks before the global one, warned, “Emergency response, including ambulance service, is limited or non-existent.” If this leads to more cases, #Haiti isn’t prepared to respond & our whole region remains at risk.”
Immigration lawyers and advocates say at least 14 Haitian nationals are scheduled to board a deportation flight from Alexandria, Louisiana, to Port-au-Prince Tuesday. Among the passengers is a detainee who had been exposed to the coronavirus while in immigration lockup at two different facilities.
The time of the flight was unknown, and late Monday members of Congress were mobilizing to try and halt it after being contacted by lawyers and prominent health and human rights groups working in Haiti, including Partners In Health and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Some were making phone calls to immigration officials in the Trump administration, while others were firing off letters to both the Department of Homeland Security and the White House.
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