LITTLE HAITI (CBS4) – Immigrant advocates staged a protest in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood Monday against the detention and pending deportations of hundreds of Haitians.  The Haitians all have criminal records and are being detained in preparation for deportations scheduled to begin in mid-January, when regular flights to and from Haiti are expected to resume.

“We are sending a clear message to the Obama administration to stop this nonsense right now!” declared Marleine Bastien of Haitian Women of Miami.  “To be spending taxpayer dollars to lock people up and send them back to Haiti at Christmas time is not only unfair, it’s criminal.”

Cheryl Little, of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), said approximately 100 Haitians held at the Krome detention facility in West Miami-Dade were recently transferred to facilities in rural Louisiana, without access to their South Florida attorneys and family support.  Little said those who have been detained have “already done their time” or  “paid their debt” for what, in many cases, were petty crimes.  More than 350 Haitians are currently being held pending deportation.

Steve Forester, of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said sending anyone to Haiti amid violence following a suspect election, a cholera plague, and January’s devastating earthquake, would be “unconscionable.”

“Yes, these people have some criminal infraction, but now is an insane time to be deporting anyone to Haiti with a cholera epidemic raging out of control,” Forester said.

The FICA’s Susana Barciela said deportation could constitute a cruel and unusual punishment.

“If they get deported, the conditions in Haiti are such that it could amount to a death sentence,” Barciela said.

Little said that Haitians in the United States who could apply for lawful visas are fearful now.

“People are terrified,” Little said.  “We have people who are eligible for Temporary Protected Status who are afraid to apply…because they think they’re going to be detained by immigration and deported.”

Barbara Gonzalez, a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), emailed CBS4 News a statement defending the government’s actions.

“ICE is resuming the removal of criminal aliens in coordination with the Government of Haiti and consistent with our domestic immigration enforcement priorities. ICE is legally required to repatriate criminal aliens to their country of origin or release them into U.S. communities if their repatriation is not reasonably foreseeable,” the statement said.

The controversy comes at a time of growing sentiment against illegal immigrants.

Florida’s governor-elect, Rick Scott, campaigned for a tough, Arizona-style immigration law.

In a post responding to an article by CBS4’s news partner, the Miami Herald, one reader wrote, “If immigration advocates are so concerned about the deportation of Haitians after they are released from jail, then let them take them into their own homes. We sure as heck don’t need them roaming the streets. How about a little common sense for a change?”

Little said ICE can remove foreign nationals for the most innocuous of infractions.

“Someone who allows their driver’s license to expire for four months can be called a criminal,” Little said.

Comments (9)
  1. Julie says:

    why should we care about what time of year these criminals are being sent back to their country ? they are criminals. if you ask me America would be a better place if they deport all immigrants who commit crimes in the US. once they are givin a chance to better their lives and they decide to commit crimes…. send them back to their own country !!!!

  2. Jimbo99 says:

    I’m with Julie on this one, round up even more that are protesting and deport them as well !

  3. Vincent Marinello says:

    Julie this is just the begining of whats to come ICE is picking up illegals every day now 24/7 in an effort to clean up the mess that has been made for years. How dare they curse the president and demand anything for criminals that are going back. Makes me and everyone else a bit safer, and maybe now the rest of themn will think before commiting a crime

  4. 2seavalet2 says:

    When will our elected officials wake up & deal with illegal immigration for what it is on its’ face…illegal…Send them all back!…Homeland Security begins at the border of the Homeland…

  5. CODE 1 says:

    WE CANNOT BE THE NANNY TO THE WORLD, NOT ON MY TAX DOLLAR ! ! ! ! ! Send these tps or otherwise back IMMEDIATELY ! ! ! Do we legal American Citizens have to march in the streets before ICE will DEPORT ??????????

  6. 2seavalet2 says:

    Let the social activists spout the economic contributions of illegals to our economy & society…Yet ask yourself sincerely…Do the same activists ever mention the “cost” of their illegal presence?…Funny how quickly they shut up on this question…

  7. Good Call says:



    This GRAVEY TRAIN has “closed it’s doors” NOW all you haitians, go BACK to haiti and DO SOMETHING THERE ! ! ! ! ! This also applies to all illegals, tps and whatever else you want to call them. GO HOME ! ! ! ! !