Sign On Letter to Stop All Deportations
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Dear President Trump, Members of Congress, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, Acting Director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Matthew Albence and State Governors
On April 7 , 2020, the Department of Homeland Security deported 68 Haitians nationals to Port-au-Prince, several of them were exposed to coronavirus while detained in two different facilities. This deportation was carried out via a charter flight by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, weeks after the Haitian government officially closed its borders. We, the undersigned, are outraged at the decision to continue mass deportations amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. By sending exposed people to vulnerable nations, The Department of Homeland Security knowingly put the detainees, the officers, Haiti, and neighboring Dominican Republic at risk.
We write this letter to urgently demand the administration put a moratorium on deportations to Haiti and all other nations in order to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. We also demand all non-criminal detainees be released from detention following a medical screening consistent with healthcare protocols. Deportations and enforcement actions involve human-to-human contact which go contrary to the social distancing and shelter in place practices health officials at the Centers for Disease Control have urged the American public to heed.
COVID-19 is an extremely contagious and life threatening virus. As of April 15th 2020, 128,886 people have perished globally. In the United States alone, 26,211 people have died, a death toll which currently surpasses every other country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of casualties will drastically increase as the United States nears its peak in late April. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he projected between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths, which is two to four times the U.S casualty rate in the Vietnam War.
Haiti especially is dangerously unprepared to treat coronavirus patients. Haiti lacks ventilators, sufficient intensive care units, and the necessary equipment for medical workers. It is also still reeling and recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and its economy is in turmoil. Haiti does not have the capacity to respond to a pandemic of this magnitude and the potential outbreak that could emerge would be disastrous for the country.
At a time when local and state governments are implementing strict shelter-in-place orders and airplane travel is constrained, it is alarming that the Department of Homeland Security continues to deport individuals and families, many of whom were detained in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Crowded detention centers are irresponsible and dangerous and the Department of Homeland Security has threatened public safety by continuing these practices amid a worldwide pandemic. If the federal government is sincerely interested in containing the spread of the virus, then it will temporarily halt deportations and take the necessary actions to avert its rampant spread.
When several detained individuals are at risk of COVID-19, we are all at risk. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis and the United States government is morally obligated to do all it can to save people. The famous nineteenth century diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville once stated, "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." Let us never cease to be good. As Americans unite to support each other in this time, we, the undersigned organizations, urge our government to put a moratorium on all deportations and to release all non-criminal immigrants to ease overcrowding and reduce the risk of contamination. This virus is deadly and the federal government must respond in kind. Detainees must be included in our nation’s emergency response if we are to curb the outbreak and save lives.
It is the right and humane thing to do !
Marleine Bastien, MSW, LCSW
Family Action Network Movement, FANM