Haiti Quake Survivors Stuck in US Immigrant Jails

Hurriedly evacuated, they now await an impossible deportation
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2010 8:28 AM CDT
Haiti Quake Survivors Stuck in US Immigrant Jails
A US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer stands next to a fugitive before entering a staging facility in Los Angeles in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

At least 30 Haitians who were rescued from the earthquake by US Marines now find themselves stuck in immigration detention centers in Florida. Some were pulled from the wreckage, while others were hurried onto planes during hasty evacuations when the aftershock hit, the New York Times reports. There was no time to acquire visas, so when they landed in the US they were taken into custody, placed in an immigration jail, and now await deportation to Haiti—which has been suspended indefinitely.

Legal advocates have tried for weeks to convince the government to release them to citizen relatives, but were told that deportation officers were awaiting word from Washington. Now, prodded by the Times, Immigration and Custom Enforcement says they’re “being processed for release.” That doesn’t appease relatives. “Every time I called immigration, they told me they will release them in two or three weeks,” says one, “and now it’s almost three months.” (Read more Immigration and Customs Enforcement stories.)

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