Wexler Urges DOJ and DHS to Immediately Suspend the Deportation of Haitian Immigrants
Sends Letter with 9 Colleagues to Gonzalez and Chertoff Citing Civil Unrest And Politically Deteriorating Situation in Haiti
(Washington, DC) Today Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL) along with Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-TX), Kendrick B. Meek (D-FL), Major Owens (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and Department of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff urging them to immediately suspend the active deportation of Haitian immigrants in light of the deteriorating situation in Haiti. Wexler and his colleagues expressed their growing concerns about the conditions in Haiti which have gone from bad to worse and have been marred by civil unrest, human rights violations and increased violence.
Successive U.S. Administrations have granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allowing at risk individuals fleeing from their country to stay in the United States, if their homeland has been paralyzed by civil conflict or natural disaster. Immigration lawyers and Haitian Americans from across the U.S. have taken legal action, seeking to halt the deportation of Haitian immigrants. However, the Bush Administration has repeatedly rejected granting TPS to Haitian migrants and has ordered that they be returned immediately to their homeland where they face the real possibility of persecution and possibly death.
On February 7, Haiti will hold national elections; unfortunately in preparation for these elections there has been increased civil strife, further destabilizing the conditions on the ground, where Haitians are subjected to rampant kidnappings, political attacks and street violence on a daily basis. During this difficult time, neither the Haitian government nor the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has been able to protect its citizens, and thus it is negligent for the Bush Administration to continue to deport Haitians whose health and well-being are endangered. Given the pressing risks to the Haitian immigrants, Wexler and his colleagues are urging Gonzalez and Chertoff to respond immediately to their request. (Please find a copy of the letter below, a similar letter was sent to Secretary Chertoff):
January 25, 2006
The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Gonzales,
We are writing to express our unequivocal support for the recent legal action taken by immigration lawyers and Haitian Americans across the United States seeking a halt to the deportation of Haitian immigrants during this period of escalating violence, human rights violations and instability in Haiti.
As you are aware, the people of Haiti are preparing for an upcoming election which unfortunately has had the effect of causing increased civil strife further destabilizing conditions on the ground. At this time, neither the Haitian government nor the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has proven capable of protecting citizens in a meaningful way, and as such, we believe that it is unacceptable for the Administration to continue to deport at risk Haitians back to a country where their lives and freedom will be endangered.
Many of us have advocated on numerous occasions for the Department of Homeland Security to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian migrants. TPS allows illegal immigrants the opportunity to stay in the United States if their homeland has been paralyzed by civil conflict or natural disaster. Nowhere has this requirement been more applicable than in Haiti, and yet the repeated calls from Congress and concerned Americans for TPS for Haitians have been rejected or ignored. While thousands of immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras currently enjoy temporary protected status, Haitian immigrants have been subjected to a gross double standard and denied the protections of our government.
Mr. Gonzales, this past week our Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton described the deteriorating security situation in Haiti as "very, very disturbing." Haiti is currently ravaged by rampant kidnappings, politically motivated killings, and constant street fighting with no end in sight to the violence. The ever-deteriorating human rights situation makes it unconscionable for the United States to actively deport Haitian citizens at this time, and so we are therefore calling upon you to accede to the requests for the halts in deportations, and administratively close these cases.
Given the pressing nature of this issue, we look forward to a timely response.