AILA: Government’s Plan to Resume Haitian Removals Could Endanger Asylum Seekers and Vulnerable Immigrants

CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras
202-507-7649
gtzamaras@aila.org
Belle Woods
202-507-7675
bwoods@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced plans to resume regular deportations of Haitians. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) questioned the decision and expressed serious concerns.

AILA President William A. Stock stated, "In recognition of the 2010 earthquake's devastating impact on Haitian infrastructure, the United States government offered temporary relief to citizens of Haiti while their country was rebuilt. Just last year, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was renewed for another 18 months for Haitian nationals, into 2017. The government had also established a Haitian Parole Program, allowing those with pending applications to join family members in the U.S. rather than wait in a potentially dangerous situation. The decision to recommence removals to Haiti is impossible to reconcile with recent official recognition of the ongoing humanitarian crisis there. Detaining and fast-tracking the removal of Haitians back to a country still reeling from the effects of natural disaster benefits no one."

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, noted, "The government said it will respect asylum law but in recent years, AILA has observed serious violations of due process and the erosion of meaningful access to asylum due to the extraordinary use of detention and fast-track systems to push those seeking protection through a rapid deportation process where few have access to lawyers or a hearing before a judge. Moreover the credible fear process does not adequately protect those who are elderly, sick, or disabled who might need other humanitarian relief. DHS needs to explain how it will ensure these vulnerable people will not be sent back to what are still extremely unstable and even violent conditions in Haiti."

Mr. Johnson continued, "The lack of transparency shrouding this announcement is alarming given the conditions that await those slated for removal. If the federal government believes conditions have improved in Haiti to such an extent as to justify this change in policy, tell us the facts and figures and prove that Haitians will not be deported back to an unsafe situation. Finally, how are the U.S. and Haitian governments working together to ensure this process works in a humane and compassionate manner, in line with our country's values? We'll be looking to ICE for concrete answers."

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 16092206.