MIAMI – The COVID-19 pandemic has infected nearly 1.5 million people globally and killed at least seventy thousand. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have urged the American public to stay at home when possible in order to safely avoid exposure and curb the outbreak.
Yet, despite the highly contagious nature of this virus, the Department of Homeland Security has continued to detain and deport immigrants.
On April 7th, 2020, at least 68 Haitian nationals were deported to Port-au-Prince. One of them was exposed to coronavirus at two different facilities.
Deporting exposed detainees is incomprehensible. By sending these immigrants to vulnerable nations, The Department of Homeland Security knowingly put the detainees, the officers, Haiti, and neighboring Dominican Republic at risk.
Haiti does not have the capacity to respond to a pandemic of this magnitude. It lacks ventilators, essential medical equipment for workers, and sufficient intensive care units for critically ill patients. The potential outbreak that could emerge would be disastrous for the country.
Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of Family Action Network Movement (FANM) in Miami stated, “If the US government wants to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it will immediately order a halt on all deportations. We have a moral obligation to defeat this virus for the people of Haiti and of the world. Deporting immigrants at this time of crisis is inexplicable and runs contrary to the orders and mandates our own local and state lawmakers have put in place. This must stop now.”
Institute for Justice and Democracy Haiti (IJDH) Policy Coordinator Steve Forester exclaimed, “Recklessly spreading coronavirus, one would think, should be a crime with maximum penalties attached. But that’s what DHS is doing by continuing deportations to Haiti and many other countries as if the coronavirus didn’t exist! All “normal” deportations, like yesterday’s of 68 persons to Haiti, of persons who have been detained in facilities which government officials have acknowledged are breeding grounds for infectious diseases, from a public health perspective, is a catastrophe endangering hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in foreign lands.”
FANM Board Chair Marie Paule Woodson stated, “ICE’s decision to deport the detained Haitians in spite of the coronavirus concerns is wrong and will only worsen the crisis in Haiti. It is inhuman, barbaric, and insane. The entire country stands the chance of being wiped out knowing the current conditions.”
Prominent Immigration lawyer Ira Kurzban stated, “It is disgraceful that while Haiti is closed to all flights from the U.S., President Jovenel Moise accepts Haitians with the coronavirus in a county of 8 million, many with compromised immune systems resulting from the UN imported cholera epidemic.”
Family Action Network Movement (FANM) urges The Trump Administration to put a moratorium on deportations to Haiti and all other nations in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus in this time of grave crisis. This virus is deadly and the federal government must respond in kind. In addition, all non-criminal immigrants should be freed to ease overcrowding and reduce the risk of contamination.