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Faith-based Groups Oppose Decision to Resume Deportations to Haiti

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February 11, 2011

Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Madam Secretary: 

As faith-based and humanitarian organizations, we write to express our opposition to the
Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) recent decision to resume deportations to Haiti.  One
week after the United States deported 27 Haitians, deportee Wildrick Guerrier has died. After being
placed in a Haitian jail, Guerrier, 34, a long-time U.S. resident, began to suffer from cholera-like
symptoms.  He died shortly thereafter, leaving family in the U.S. to mourn his loss.  At least one
other Haitian detainee shows similar symptoms and had to be transferred to an already overburdened medical center for treatment.

The death of Mr. Guerrier proved an unfortunate point that humanitarian and faith-based
organizations had raised with DHS before the January 20 deportation was executed:  That
deportations to Haiti at this time may amount to a death sentence, as Haiti is wholly unprepared to
absorb the population and guarantee the protection of their human rights.  We are alarmed to hear
that even following this tragedy, DHS is planning to deport another group of Haitians, perhaps as
early as this week.  Now is not the time to resume deportations to Haiti, nor would it be morally or
politically appropriate to do so in the foreseeable future.  To continue deportations in the face of
such conditions would represent a knowing disregard for the life and dignity of the Haitians
scheduled for deportation.  

We ask that you cease these deportations immediately.

Many of our organizations had expressed our concerns about the resumption of deportations of
Haitians at a time when Haiti is still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake.  Mr.
Guerrier’s untimely death proves that Haiti is unable to provide for the safe and dignified
reintegration of deportees. Not only are the lives of deported Haitians at risk, deportations could
divert critical resources from Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction effort.

Of the 27 Haitians already deported and another 300 who await deportation, there are a significant
number with low-level, non-violent criminal convictions who had already been released and had
been living in the community without incident for years.  Others have compelling humanitarian
situations, including serious medical conditions or potential claims for immigration relief.

DHS has stated that it intends to deport 700 Haitians by October.  Yet, a cholera outbreak has
claimed over 3,600 lives and infected more than 400,000.  Reconstruction continues at a slow pace,
with hundreds of thousands still living in tent cities.  To compound these issues, Haiti’s jails, in which the Haitian government routinely holds deportees and which are notorious for the inhumane
treatment of detainees, are now rife with cholera.  

In addition to immediately halting all deportations, the United States can take additional steps to
reiterate its commitment to help Haiti recover.  This would include:
1) A re-designation of TPS for Haiti so that Haitians who entered the U.S. after the earthquake
may access its benefits; 
2) Humanitarian parole for immediate family members of Haitians evacuated to the United
States for medical purposes after the earthquake; and 
3) The implementation of a family reunification parole program that would benefit 55,000
Haitians with approved family petitions into the United States as they wait for their priority
dates to become current.  
We believe that these measures would alleviate an otherwise inevitable worsening of the social and
economic strains on the stricken nation, facilitate the reunification of Haitian families, and ensure
that sorely-needed remittances flow to the country.  The adoption of these measures would also
send an important signal to the Haitian people that the United States remains committed to their
long-term welfare.

Sincerely,

African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA)
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish World Service
Church World Service
Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ)
The Episcopal Church
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Gender Action
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Mennonite Church USA
Muslim Public Affairs Council 
The National Advocacy Center Sisters of the Good Shepherd
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Partners In Health
Refugees International
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
UNITED SIKHS
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
World Relief

Cc: Honorable Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
 Melody Barnes, Director, Domestic Policy Council
Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, National Security Council John Morton, Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service

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