New policy to deport Haitians is inhumane

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Marleine Bastien at a Miami demonstration against Dominican Republic deportations in June 2015. “The Obama administration has failed Haitians in at least two ways: DHS’ recent resumption of Haiti removals and its ineffective implementation of the Haitian Family Reunification Program.”

By Marleine Bastien and Steven Forester, Haiti Liberté, Sept. 28, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision last  week to resume deportations of non-criminal Haitians, disingenuously citing improved conditions despite political and economic turmoil and an unchecked cholera epidemic, is inhumane, ill-advised, and shocking to the Haitian-American community. It may rip families apart and curtail life-saving remittances to Haiti.

DHS should immediately reverse it.

It evokes another administration failure that any presidential candidate seeking Haitian-American votes should address. That is DHS’ failure to significantly expand the Haitian Family Reunification Program (HFRP), announced in October 2014 as a way to promote orderly outflow and to help Haiti recover by generating additional remittances.

We fought nearly five years for its creation. What was created was so arbitrarily limited that as of Jun. 30, only 1,952 HFRP beneficiaries had been approved, mocking administration goals and promises. In contrast, more than 100,000 have arrived under DHS’s excellent and recently reinstated Cuban Family Reunification Program.

Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake led to bipartisan calls to create the HFRP to more quickly bring in beneficiaries on wait lists of up to 13 years whom DHS already had approved. We said that it would decrease desperation, save lives, expeditiously reunite families and speed. 

 

Marleine Bastien is executive director of Haitian Women of Miami. Steven Forester is immigration policy coordinator for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. This op-ed was first published in the Miami Herald.

 

Posted Oct. 3, 2016