Letter to President Obama about Haitian deportation
Dear President Obama,
The American Friends Service Committee is disturbed with the Administration’s announced resumption of arrests and deportations to Haiti of Haitian nationals with prior criminal convictions. We ask that this policy be immediately suspended and that available alternatives such as parole or community supervision be enacted instead.
AFSC works with Haitian immigrants in the United States and with communities in Haiti. We know the impact these deportations could have both on the Haitian Diaspora and on Haitians struggling to rebuild their devastated nation. In both cases the hardship is unnecessary and unwarranted; it is inhumane for our government to pursue its mandated deportation criteria in the case of Haitians regardless of their prior criminal convictions.
The US is aware of the practice in Haiti to incarcerate individuals who are returned there due to a criminal conviction, and of the cholera epidemic that is ravaging the island nation and spreading throughout Haiti’s prison system. A deportation to Haiti brings high risk of death. The United States should never be complicit in forcefully sending persons to the conditions that plague Haiti’s prisons. The United States has clear legal obligations under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and related international conventions and treaties, not to place people in the way of harm as will happen to deportees under the policy announced.
We understand that the law allows individuals with prior criminal convictions to be deported regardless of their family ties in the US, their rehabilitation, or their reintegration into their communities. However, deportation has devastating consequences on family and community members, sometimes leaving children without parents. As a Quaker organization we believe that people who have been punished by the criminal legal system for a conviction should be permitted to reintegrate into society and be provided with opportunities to redeem themselves in their communities. For this reason, we will continue to urge change in the government’s policy of mandated deportation. It is within the purview of your executive powers to do so.
We hope our government will realize the intolerably high human cost of deportation for Haitians and reconsider its current policy in light of the toll that policy will take.
Yours in peace and service,