MIAMI (AP) — The United States should stop deporting Haitians who are seriously ill or who have family members in America, a human rights group said Friday.
Deporting sick Haitians could jeopardize their lives because of the unsanitary conditions in the Haitian jails where they would be detained after arriving, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said in a statement.
A group of 27 Haitians were sent back on Jan. 20. All but one of those deported had been convicted of a crime in the United States. One of the deportees died last week after suffering cholera-like symptoms in a Haitian jail.
A cholera outbreak in Haiti has killed at least 4,000 people since October and sickened 200,000 more.
The deportations of Haitians who are seriously ill or who have family in the U.S. should stop until conditions improve in their Caribbean homeland, the commission said.
The U.S. suspended deportations to Haiti in January 2010 after a catastrophic earthquake devastated the capital of the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. In December, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it would resume deporting Haitians convicted of serious crimes in this country.
Several legal and immigrant rights groups had asked the Washington-based commission to intervene and stop the deportations. They urged the U.S. government to heed the commission's recommendations Friday.
"By resuming the suspension of deportations to Haiti for now, the U.S. can truly demonstrate its commitment to aiding Haiti through this difficult period towards real reconstruction," said Michelle Karshan, executive director of Alternative Chance, which works with criminal deportees in Haiti.