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Statement by Secretary Johnson to Resume Regular Deportations of Haitian Nationals

On September 22, 2016, days before Hurricane Mathew, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a press release by Secretary Johnson. Johnson stated that effective immediately, Haitian nationals, under the November 20, 2014, memorandum “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants” will be removed in the same manner as other nationals from other countries.

The policy focuses on the deportation of those convicted of a felony, significant or multiple misdemeanors, and those detained while attempting to enter the United States unlawfully.

In 2010, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stopped deporting Haitian nationals after the earthquake in Haiti. In 2011, ICE began to resume deporting Haitians convicted of a serious crime and a final order of removal or anyone posing a threat to the national security of the United States. Since the earthquake in 2010, the conditions in Haiti significantly improved, which led to the U.S. government deporting Haitian Nationals more regularly.

In the wake of Hurricane Mathew, congress petitioned the United States to refrain from deporting Haitian Nationals. According to Sarah Saldana, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, 40 thousand Haitians “in an emergency situation” were making their way to the border between Mexico and the United States. According to Fox News, the DHS is negotiating with the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center to lease space to house the influx of illegal Haitian immigrants.

After a trip to Mexico City in mid October to discuss security and immigration issues with Mexican officials, Johnson stated, “This should be clear: The policy change I announced on Sept. 22 remains in effect, for now and in the future,”

According to the Sept. 22 press release, a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), asylum officer will screen an individual fearful of returning to Haiti. The officer will determine the credibility of fear of torture or persecution and if a credible fear exists the person will be referred to immigration court and may apply for asylum or another form of relief.

Any Haitian national with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) continuously residing in the United States since January 12, 2011, is not subject to deportation and will remain unaffected by the policy. A Haitian national with TPS will continue to remain eligible for employment authorization. Also, TPS has been extended through July 22, 2017.

According to the Sept. 22 press release, the Government of Haiti along with DHS and the Department of State are working to resume deportations of Haitian nationals in a humane and undisruptive manner. Also, the DHS will have safe avenues for Haitian nationals looking to immigrate to the United States. However, the DHS does not elaborate on “safe avenues”.

The knowledgeable attorneys at Bretz & Coven LLP have assisted applicants throughout New York City navigate the complexities of U.S. immigration law. For creative solutions to your complex immigration issues contact our New York City office today at 1 (212) 267-2555 or to schedule a consultation in our Metro Park, New Jersey immigration law offices call 1 (732) 313-0075.

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