Immigration Law

US Deportations to Haiti Halted After Devastating Earthquake


Following an earthquake in Haiti that may have killed tens of thousands, deportations to the country have been halted, United States officials announced today.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said deportations had stopped “for the time being,” reports the New York Times. Some 30,000 Haitians in the U.S. are facing deportation orders.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association had sought the temporary stay in a letter to Napolitano, notes the News-Press of Florida.

“The worst earthquake in 200 years has left thousands, and perhaps millions, homeless,” writes president Bernard Wolfsdorf of the 11,000-member AILA in the letter. “There is simply no way that Haiti could absorb the return of its nationals under these conditions. This administration has expressed its desire to apply our immigration laws in a fair and compassionate manner. Here is a situation that cries out for that fairness and compassion.”

Construction defects are believed to have played a role in the devastation caused by the earthquake, which centered on Port-au-Prince, the Times reports in another article.

Although no one can now provide a reliable estimate of the death toll, it could number in the tens of thousands or even as much as 500,000, according to the Associated Press. In addition to those initially killed when the magnitude-7 quake struck the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation yesterday, others are expected to die of untreated injuries and even thirst.

A Washington Post page provides links to ongoing news coverage of the disaster and relief efforts.

Additional coverage:

New York Times: “Haiti in Ruin; Grim Search for the Dead”

New York Times: “Agony Sets In as Medics Focus on the Survivors”

Detention Watch Network: “ICE halts removals to Haiti!”

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