U.S. immigration authorities have repatriated 27 Haitian nationals in the first such deportations since the devastating earthquake that struck their country in January of last year.
Officials announced Thursday that 26 of those deported previously had been convicted of crimes. The other person, Lyglenson Lemorin, had been acquitted in a 2007 terror plot to destroy the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) in Chicago. Officials have said he remained a national security threat.
A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Barbara Gonzalez, said the removals were consistent with the agency's policy of removing aliens (non-citizens) who pose a threat to public safety.
Members of the Haitian-American community in Miami have criticized the deportations.
The renewal of the deportations comes as Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, struggles to recover from the earthquake that left more than 200,000 people dead and 1 million others homeless. The country also is dealing with a deadly cholera outbreak and is facing political instability following the disputed November 28 presidential election.