Saturday, December 1, 2012

Miami Immigration Clinic Fights for Haitians

Farrin Anello Supervising Attorney of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law reports on the good work of the clinic in seeking to suspend deportations of Haitian nationals who are seriously ill or who have family in the United States.

On November 3, the University of Miami School of Law Immigration Clinic, along with Dr. Arthur Fournier of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Project Medishare and Marleine Bastien of Fanm/Haitian Women of Miami, met with representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of State at a formal working meeting before the Inter-American Commission. In preparation for this meeting, Immigration Clinic students Alanna McCoy, Francesse Lucius, Stephanie Almirola, and Misato Sawada interviewed many individuals who were recently deported to Haiti and prepared a written submission documenting the human rights violations experienced by recent deportees. This brief was submitted with partners Alternative Chance, Americans for Immigrant Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Fanm/Haitian Women of Miami, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice, and the University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic. Second-year student Alanna McCoy presented the students' findings at the Commission working meeting. More information and photos from this meeting can be found here.

On November 16, the Inter-American Commission issued a statement calling upon the United States "to suspend deportations to Haiti of persons of Haitian origin who have are seriously ill or who have family members in the United States, especially when those family members are children and those at risk of deportation were the family's primary breadwinners." The Commission found that the "information presented to the Inter-American Commission indicates that the individuals who were deported allegedly do not have access to adequate medical care in Haiti, and the satisfaction of other basic needs is further affected by the weak structure of the Haitian State following the 2010 earthquake. Many of them were apparently deported despite presumed family ties in the United States, where they were the main income providers." The Commission expressed concern that the United States had violated the Commission's precautionary measures, which had urged the United States not to deport individual Haitian nationals with serious medical conditions or family ties in the United States.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, have urged a halt to all deportations to post-earthquake Haiti. The UN Independent Expert's report is available here, and the joint statement of the UNHCR-OHCHR is available here.

The United States continues to send monthly deportation flights to Haiti. However, ICE's April 2011 Policy on Resumed Removals to Haiti, which provides that the agency will weigh humanitarian factors in determining whether to deport individual Haitian nationals, remains in effect.

Here is the Guide for Haitians in Immigration Detention that Miami students prepared in December 2011, which explains how to file requests for discretionary release under this policy.

More information about advocacy against deportations to Haiti is available here

KJ

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