Miami Law's Immigration Clinic and Human Rights Clinic – along with three civil and human rights groups and another law school clinic – today filed an emergency petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to stop the deportations of Haitian nationals from the United States.
The petition argues that deporting people at this moment to Haiti, which is still recovering from the devastating earthquake of January 2010 and dealing with a cholera epidemic, political unrest, and street violence, will result in serious human rights violations.
Deportations from the U.S. to Haiti have been stayed on humanitarian grounds since shortly after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. Last Dec. 9, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement unexpectedly announced that it was lifting the ban on deportations to Haiti for individuals with criminal convictions and that it would resume deportations on Jan. 12, 2011, on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake.
"The U.S. Government is violating important human rights obligations," said Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Director of the Human Rights Clinic at Miami Law. "These deportations will compound a catastrophic public health and humanitarian crisis in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It is simply unconscionable to resume deportations to Haiti on the one-year anniversary of one of the most devastating natural disasters in world history, especially as a cholera epidemic rages across the country."
Seven law school students from the Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Clinic spent much of their winter holidays working long hours on the petition. Students conducted interviews with the families of detainees, did legal research, drafted expert declarations, and assisted with every aspect of the production of the petition.
The human rights petition claims that the new deportations will result in at least a massive increase in the numbers of people held in detention centers in Haiti. The petition also alleges that the United States has violated the human rights of the Haitians who are at risk of imminent deportations by ordering them deported without considering critical humanitarian factors, such as the importance of keeping families together, their ties to the United States, and the welfare of their U.S. citizen children.
"While the U.S. has often historically shirked its human rights obligations toward Haitian migrants, we hope our government will come to its senses and halt the planned deportations of the individuals whose stories are represented in this petition," said Rebecca Sharpless, Director of the Immigration Clinic.
The Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Alternative Chance, and the Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice joined Miami Law's two clinics in submitting the petition.