The Obama administration is preparing to resume routine removals of undocumented Haitian immigrants more than six years after suspending deportations following the Caribbean nation’s devastating January 2010 earthquake.
The announcement, expected Thursday from U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, will have an immediate effect on how Haitians are processed when they arrive without documents at the San Ysidro border and other U.S. ports of entry.
DHS officials speaking on background on Wednesday confirmed the new policy and said that it is effective as of today. Haitians who present themselves at the U.S. border can expect to be detained and processed under a provision of U.S. immigration law known as “expedited removal” that allows for their deportations without an appearance before an immigration judge — with exceptions made for those who express fear of returning to their home country.
“We will be treating inadmissible Haitians as we do nationals of other countries,” one said.
Since 2014, U.S. deportation policy has placed priority on convicted felons, those with “significant or multiple misdemeanors” and those stopped without entry documents near the border or at ports of entry while trying to enter the United States.
The plans to resume deportations to Haiti come as DHS reported on Wednesday that there could be several thousand more Haitians in Central America and Mexico making their way to the border in hopes of gaining entry to the United States.
Most Haitians arriving at the San Ysidro border in recent months have been released and given a notice to appear before an immigration judge — but that will no longer be the case, the DHS officials said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stopped deportations to Haiti following the country’s January 12, 2010 earthquake, which was centered in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Deportations resumed on a limited basis in April 2011, primarily of criminals or those considered a security threat. The new policy means that anyone with a final deportation order is now subject to deportation.
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