Insisting that Haiti does not have the healthcare resources to battle coronavirus, nine Democrats representing Florida in the U.S. House called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reverse plans to deport Haitians who were illegally in the U.S.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) planned to send at least 14 Haitians back to their home country on Tuesday but one of them had been exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., rounded up more than 15 House Democrats is sending a letter to acting U.S. DHS Sec. Chad Wolf, urging him to keep the Haitians in the U.S. Other Florida Democrats who signed the letter include U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Donna Shalala, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“Like many of the countries to which migrants are being repatriated, Haiti lacks the public health infrastructure to prevent the spread of the virus or to treat a large number of infected people. Haiti has struggled to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake and other disasters, including a cholera epidemic,” the representatives wrote. “Many citizens still lack access to the most basic medical care, potable water, and soap for handwashing. It is unconscionable to repatriate migrants who may be unwitting carriers of the virus into such an environment.”
“In March, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that the agency would ‘delay enforcement actions’ and that it’s highest priorities are to promote lifesaving and public safety activities,’” Wilson’s office insisted. “Continuing to deport migrants to Haiti would have implications for the U.S., as well, because Haiti’s health-care system is so drastically compromised, and it does not have the infrastructure in place to care for even a dozen coronavirus patients. If an outbreak occurs in Haiti, the United States may be forced to financially intercede and care for the people of Haiti because a pandemic will be too overwhelming for the island nation to conquer. The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly deporting detainees without first testing them for COVID-19.”
On Tuesday, Wilson said ICE should have the Haitians in the U.S. illegaly shelter in place.
“ICE needs to allow these detainees to shelter in place. That’s what the president promised. It is creating a very dangerous situation for the airports, the Caribbean, and ICE itself. It’s another mechanism to spread the virus across the world,” said Wilson.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.