Supporters are quickly joining Miami Law clinics and fellow rights groups to stop the deportations of Haitians one year after the earthquake. The petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which was filed on January 6, claims that resuming deportations will be inhumane given the unstable conditions of the country and its most recent cholera outbreak.
A total of 285 additional organizations and individuals have signed a letter in support of the petition opposing the United States' decision last month to reinitiate deportations to Haiti.
The University of Miami School of Law's Human Rights and Immigration Clinics submitted the petition with the support of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Alternative Chance, the Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice.
"The U.S. Government is violating important human rights obligations," said Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. "These deportations will compound a catastrophic public health and humanitarian crisis in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere."
Advocacy groups believe 1,000 or more Haitians are pending deportations, which could start at any time. "The Haitian nationals facing imminent deportation are particularly vulnerable," said Rebecca Sharpless, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. "They face being jailed by Haitian authorities in life-threatening conditions that have worsened since the cholera outbreak." Haitian immigration authorities have a policy of detaining people deported to Haiti who have a criminal record. Before the earthquake, a U.S. court of appeals described the conditions under which Haitian authorities jail deportees are "reminiscent of a slave ship."
Conditions outside Haitian jails have also not improved since the earthquake. The United Nations reports that the cholera outbreak is projected to affect 400,000 people. Miami Herald reports at least one million people are still living beneath tarps and in tents as they await reconstruction dollars to take affect.
Farrin Anello, supervising attorney and teaching fellow at the Immigration Clinic, adds that deportations would also break up families as some of the Haitians facing deportations have lived in America a majority of their lives and have U.S. citizen families. "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," said Anello.