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Miami Law Clinics Rally to Stop Deportations to Haiti

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Miami Law's Human Rights and Immigration Clinics, along with Haitian leaders, faith groups, and family members, participated in a rally last Friday to protest the United States government's decision to deport Haitian detainees. Despite the cholera outbreak and deteriorating post-earthquake conditions, the United States deported 27 Haitian men in January 2011, resulting in the tragic death of Wildrick Guerrier after he was exposed to unsafe and inhumane conditions in a Haitian jail. Under a longstanding practice, Haiti indefinitely detains all deportees with criminal records who arrive from the United States.

But even after Guerrier's death and the fact that conditions in Haiti continue to worsen, on April 15 the Obama administration sent another plane load of deportees back to the impoverished country.

It was this that spurred the rally held on April 23rd at the U.S. Immigration Naturalization Building in northwest Miami.

Since January 2011, the Human Rights and Immigration Clinics have been involved in a collaborative effort to halt deportations to Haiti in view of the ongoing effects of the January 2010 earthquake, the cholera epidemic, and political unrest. This project has involved international human rights advocacy before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, domestic policy advocacy, and individual case representation.

"The right to life should not be selectively applied depending on one's citizenship status or a prior bad act," said Miami Law Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, director of the Human Rights Clinic. "The U.S. government has a basic obligation not to deport anyone to death. Our country must live up to its human rights commitments and immediately halt any and all deportations to Haiti".

To learn more about this effort or to view or sign a petition the Immigration and Human Rights Clinics and other groups began circulating a petition urging President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, to halt all deportations to Haiti, click here.