Last week, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the United States will resume deporting Haitian immigrants arriving to the U.S.-Mexico border. In ordering reinstatement of this policy, which was suspended because of the 2010 earthquake, Johnson cited an improved political climate and diminished earthquake-related humanitarian needs.
However, this is simply not the case — despite a painstaking rebuilding process, poverty still runs rampant and with much delayed elections scheduled for Oct. 9 the political climate is more than a little fragile. The United Nations still has a stabilization force of considerable size in Haiti related to insecurity. Only until this process is finished, an elected president installed and a stable government formed should any Haitian be forced to return to Haiti.
Also, cholera inadvertently introduced to Haiti by U.N. troops, is still uncontained. To date, more than 9,000 people have died and more than 790,000 — nearly 10 percent of Haiti’s population — have been infected by the waterborne disease. Less than half the population has access to clean water, and less than a quarter has access to a toilet.
Yet, Haitians are a resilient people, full of life, love and hope. We have a responsibility to assist Haiti along its path to self-sufficiency and prosperity. We should not jeopardize its difficult road to recovery by automatically deporting those Haitians who arrive to our border. Rather than deporting individuals to a climate of instability and potential danger. Our government must continue to support Haiti’s long-term recovery and reconstruction. The United States should not resume the expedited removal of immigrants until we know that the conditions and political climate in Haiti will make for a safe return for those who are here in the United States seeking refuge and conditions worthy of human life.
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Thomas G. Wenski,