News / Americas

Immigrant Advocates Criticize Detention of Haitian Evacuees in US

U.S. immigration officials freed at least 33 Haitians on Thursday who were detained after being evacuated from Haiti following the January earthquake.  An immigrant advocacy group in Florida has criticized the detentions, saying it highlights how the U.S. immigration system is struggling to deal with the quake's aftereffects.

Volunteers for the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami say they were the first to discover that dozens of Haitian evacuees were being held in a Florida detention center.  During interviews at the facility, the Haitians said they were waved aboard U.S. military planes that left Haiti during the aftermath of the devastating January earthquake. While most Haitian evacuees were released to family members living in the United States or offered temporary assistance, several were detained.

According to Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, one such person was a 23-year-old man whose parents died in the quake, leaving him the sole guardian of his teenage sister. "He was waved onto a military plane by Americans and brought here, and immediately detained upon arrival.  And during his detention, he was not only prevented from helping his sister, but he also didn't even know where she was," she said.

Little says legal advocates filed release requests for the man and several other Haitian evacuees who were brought to the United States and then detained.

In addition to the 33 people released on Thursday, Little says several more are expected to go free soon.

She says the detentions are troubling because none of the individuals had criminal records, and that they were not accused of illegally entering the country.

In many cases, Little says, Haitians who had lost everything in the quake were unable to provide documents needed to enter the United States. "That would be perfectly understandable.  But if they were told to board planes, that is something someone in a desperate situation might do," she said.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that a number of Haitians are being held and will be released as officials determine whether they are eligibile for temporary residency in the United States.  Officials say the focus of the detentions is to block entry to the United States by anyone using fradulent documents or anyone who is ineligible for residency.

Little says the detentions are just one problem with the U.S. immigration system, as it struggles to cope with the strain caused by the earthquake.  She says some Haitian-Americans who have been granted visas to bring family members from Haiti are still waiting for relatives to enter the country.  "And yet those family members in Haiti have no home, no shelter, very little food, and are barely surviving.  If our government does not do something, they could remain there for years before reuniting with their loved ones," she said.

Thousands of people were carried on military or medical evacuation flights to the United States in the weeks after the January 12 quake.  Since the quake, U.S. officials have suspended deportations of Haitians.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Ambassador Calls for LGBT Rights

John Berry spoke at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne
More

China's Xi Praises Close Ties with Cuba

Head of China's Communist Party hails common socialist bond between his country and Cuba as he kicks off a state visit in Havana
More

US Judge Orders Argentina, Creditors to Reach Deal

Lawyers for investors who declined to restructure bonds after country defaulted on about $100B in 2002 warned that time running out to reach a deal, avert fresh default
More

Trial Imminent for Detained Venezuelan Protest Leader Lopez

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, says outside pressure needed on Venezuelan president to move case forward
More

Sex Workers Seek HIV Prevention

The Lancet publishes new series on HIV
More

Texas Gov. Perry Orders State National Guard to Border

Governor says he took extraordinary measure to help secure the border, his critics say it is a political stunt
More