“They have been sent to hell:” Children deported by the US to Haiti
Following the recent caravan of Haitian migrants that arrived at the southern border of the United States, thousands of them have been sent back to the Caribbean nation, including hundreds of minors who were born in other Latin American countries and are citizens of those nations.
BBC Mundo contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection to find out the legal basis for the deportation of these minors to Haiti and their position on the allegations made in this story but did not hear back before publication.
According to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 800 children were deported by the U.S. to Haiti between September 19 and November 4.
Of these, more than 400 were born in Chile, 84 in Brazil, six in Venezuela, and one each in Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Panama.
“That is the number of those we have been able to confirm with some kind of document, be it birth certificate, passport or some form of identification. But the figure may be much higher given that some do not have documents or claim to have lost them,” says Giuseppe Loprete, head of the IOM mission in Haiti.
Data from Panamanian authorities indicate that of 19,000 migrant minors who crossed its borders this year, 7,000 were born in Chile and 4,000 in Brazil, all to Haitian parents.
According to data from the NGO Witness at the Border, the flights of deportations that have taken place during the last months are among the most numerous ever between the US and Haiti for a record of more than 8,000 people between September and November.
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Guerline M. Jozef, director of the NGO Haitian Bridge Alliance, which represents Haitian immigrants, says the figure becomes more alarming not only because of the number but because of the conditions of the destination to which they have been sent.
“That’s thousands of people who have been sent to a place where their lives are in danger. And more alarming is the case of these children, who have never been to Haiti before and who have been sent there regardless of their nationality. They have been sent to hell,” she said.
The activist explains that from a legal point of view, the U.S. justifies the deportations in the so-called Title 42, a policy approved during the Trump administration to expressly deport undocumented immigrants, who are considered a potential public health danger because of the coronavirus pandemic.