News & Politics

U.S. Stops Deporting Haitians — It Took an Earthquake


It took an earthquake, but the U.S. government is finally stopping its regular deportation of Haitians back to their homeland.

But it’s only for now. Offers to Haitians of the coveted Temporary Protected Status — “given to certain immigrants in the United States who cannot safely return to their countries because of armed conflicts, natural disasters or other emergencies,” as the Miami Herald notes — are not in the cards. Haitian activists have continually pressed for such status — way before the devilish earthquake — because theirs is such a dangerous country.

Just a week ago, as Roy Edroso reported in this space, 10 people were arrested in New York at a protest in support of Haitian activist Jean Montrevil. He’s just one of the many Haitians in what seems like permanent detention in the U.S.

Homeland Security czarina Janet Napolitano announced Homeland Security’s plan today to halt deportations. Nothing more than an accidental victory for undocumented Haitian immigrants who have for years tried to get asylum in the U.S. Some are probably criminals, but the vast majority aren’t.

The Obama administration isn’t showing much more heart than past U.S. regimes. Back in 2004, Charlie Rangel and others were pleading for the Bush regime to intervene in Haiti’s particularly bloody chaos going on at that time. GOP congressman Mark Foley, as I wrote at the time, had the gall to reply (post invasion-of-Iraq), “We can’t intervene and jump in the middle of this right now until we get backing from the UN.”

And all that time, the Florida congressman was trying to jump into the middle of all those congressional pages and other young men. (He was hounded out of Congress in September 2006 when that scandal broke.)

Back to the Haitians: Just about a year ago, U.S. immigration authorities — the aptly named ICE — ordered 30,000 Haitians deported, but Haiti blocked it, saying that the country needed time to recover from devastating hurricanes in 2008.

The U.S. government ignored that and continued ahead with what it calls “removals.”

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