Tue | Aug 14, 2018

Growing chorus of calls on US to reverse course on Haitian deportations

Published:Friday | December 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM
President Barack Obama


The Obama administration has resumed deportation of Haitians living illegally in the United States amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to reverse the policy.

In the latest appeal, three legislators in Brooklyn, New York have dispatched a joint letter to the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, and to the Obama administration asking them to rescind their decision to resume deportations of Haitians.

New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, and New York State Senator Kevin Parker said Haitians being deported are unfairly "singled out".

Bichotte, the first Haitian American in New York City to be elected to New York State Assembly, has also participated in a social media campaign imploring the US administration to redesignate Haitians refugees for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) classification and to expand the Haitian Family Reunification Programme.

The three elected officials represent largely Caribbean districts in Brooklyn, with high concentration of Haitians. Bichotte represents the 42nd Assembly District, Williams the 45thCity Council District, and Parker the 21st Senatorial District.

"America has long been known as the land of opportunity, and a country that has opened its borders to immigrants," the legislators say in their joint letter.

"If we look at more recent immigrants, such as Cubans, there has long been a policy that once they arrive, if they make it to our shores, they are allowed to stay and granted refugee status.

"There were also Salvadorans and Guatemalans, who sought asylum in our country during the civil war in El Salvador, many to whom asylum was granted," they added.

"Ultimately, legislation was put in place - the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central Relief Act (1972) - which allowed these groups to apply directly for a green card. In addition, the Obama administration has recently said it would accept 110,000 Syrian refugees. In light of these policies, it would appear, that these Haitian immigrants are being singled out."


The politicians wrote that, prior to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, many Haitians migrated there to find work, stating that, once the Olympics were over, jobs were scarce and some Haitians began the long and treacherous journey to the US/Mexico border "only to be detained or turned away".

In some cases, Bichotte, Williams and Parker said Haitian families were separated. "Women and children from their husbands and fathers, due to the abrupt change in immigration policy."

The legislators said the deportations resumed "at a time when there was a tragic confluence of events including the devastation Hurricane Matthew and a widespread cholera epidemic, accompanied by a pending election.