Caribbean American congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians.
“Earlier today, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that removal proceedings have resumed for Haitian nationals in the United States who lack Temporary Protected Status,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told Caribbean Life. “The majority of the people DHS intends to remove have not been accused of any crime.
“These deportations will return thousands of Haitians to a country that continues to struggle with the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and the recent outbreak of cholera that was introduced by international aid workers responding to the 2010 earthquake,” added the representative for the Ninth Congressional District in Brooklyn.
“In this period of turmoil, the forced removal of Haitian nationals will only exacerbate the difficulties of rebuilding Haiti and deny families access to remittances from relatives in the United States,” she continued. “I am deeply saddened that these deportations have resumed, and I call on President Obama and his administration to end this policy immediately.”
On Nov. 2, Clarke, with 13 of congressional colleagues, urged Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to suspend the removal of Haitian nationals who have not been convicted of a serious crime or otherwise present a threat to US national security.
Last week, two major Haitian Diaspora groups in New York launched an online petition requesting that Obama also immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians in the wake of the massive destruction caused to the French-speaking Caribbean country by Hurricane Matthew a month ago.
The Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora on Friday launched the petition, saying that they are hoping to build awareness to support it, which, on receiving 100,000 signatures, will require an official response from the White House.
“This petition is to urge President Barack Obama to grant Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED), expand and/or Re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals, including recently arrived individuals who are currently threatened with deportation, based on the devastation of Hurricane Matthew,” the petition says.
It notes that Hurricane Matthew “violently struck Haiti and resulted in the country’s largest humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake.”
The petition says Matthew caused extensive damage, leaving more than 2.1 million people at risk of food insecurity, homelessness, and increase cholera and other diseases.
“It is currently impractical, unsafe and inhumane to deport people into the country at this time,” the petition says. “Haitians are hardworking, law-abiding, contribute to the US economy, as well as supporting their families via remittances.”
The petition is accessed at: https://petit
“I want you to know that, in partnership with the Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora, I am supporting an online petition to the White House requesting the President Obama halt the deportation of Haitian nationals, which will allow critical resources in the form of remittances to fund the recovery in Haiti,” Clarke said.
“If we obtain 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the community will receive an official response from the White House,” added Clarke, whose Brooklyn district has the second largest concentration of Haitians in the US. Miami is reported to have the highest.
In late September, Clarke expressed deep concern about the group’s decision to resume the deportation of undocumented Haitian immigrants.
The passage of Hurricane Matthew, a month ago, has further exacerbated Haiti’s plight, prompting the Haitian Diaspora group to launch the online petition, supported by Clarke.
The United Nations also warned that, while its seems as if “the world has moved on,” Haiti’s needs remain vast.
The U.N. said this is exemplified by the nearly 600,000 children being stalked by disease, hunger and malnutrition, and in need of assistance.
The U.N. said the total destruction the Category 4 storm inflicted on crops, food stock and livestock in some of the worst affected areas have left over 800,000 people in need of immediate food assistance and more than 112,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition.
An estimated 50,000 children have been left homeless and are staying in temporary shelters, said the U.N., adding that another 3,500 children living in institutions need help accessing nutrition, water and sanitation services.