Haitian Advocates, Fearing COVID-19 Spread, Call On U.S. To Halt Deportation Flights

Apr 22, 2020

Earlier this month, the U.S. deported a group of Haitians back to Haiti – and some tested positive for the new coronavirus. Immigrant advocates are now demanding the U.S. not send another flight of Haitian deportees this week.

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Haitian media this week reported the country’s prime minister, Joseph Jouthe, said the U.S. is deporting 129 Haitians back to Haiti on Thursday. A letter signed by two dozen South Florida immigrant rights groups urges the Trump Administration not to send the flight. It urged Haiti not to accept the deportees.

The group – led by the Haitian-American advocacy gorup Family Action Network Movement, or FANM – called the request an “urgent” effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Haiti. That’s because two weeks ago the U.S. sent 61 Haitians back to Haiti – and three turned out to be infected with the new coronavirus.

Haiti has so far reported fewer than 60 COVID-19 cases. But the letter points out its threadbare health system is “dangerously unprepared to a respond to a pandemic” that the deportation flights could add to.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said it cannot confirm or deny a flight is going to Haiti this week. The U.S. has been criticized for deporting COVID-infected people to other places in Latin America and the Caribbean, like Guatemala.