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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Miss Colombia Takes Miss Universe Crown

Paulina Vega is the first contestant from Colombia to win since 1958
More

Honduran President Hails Drop in Murder Rate

Juan Orlando Hernandez says deployment of special military police has cut country's murder rate, one of the world's highest, by 23 percent
More

Thousands of Venezuelan Opposition Supporters Protest in Caracas

Angry about inflation and shortages of goods, they want an end to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro
More

Haiti Electoral Council Called 'New Step' Toward Democracy

Impoverished Caribbean nation has not held legislative or municipal elections for three years, is due for presidential election at year's end
More

Argentine Government Thinks Rogue Agents Killed Prosecutor

Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, was found fatally shot last Sunday
More

In Shortages-hit Venezuela, Lining Up Becomes a Profession

Job usually involves starting before dawn, enduring long hours, dodging or bribing police, and then selling a coveted spot at front of huge shopping lines
More