Observers are highlighting how the Trump administration is recklessly continuing to deport people back to countries such as Haiti and Guatemala – despite the obvious public health risks and potential to accelerate the spread of Covid-19 in countries that are ill-prepared to deal with a major outbreak.
- As reported in the Miami Herald, “ICE to deport Haitians despite coronavirus concerns” advocates are outraged by this decision noting, “‘Their healthcare system was compromised even before this so if we get just 25 cases, we can imagine what will happen,’ said U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. ‘They haven’t recovered from all of the rioting, people not being paid and the government being shut down, one man ruling the country. That’s unsustainable. We are in a pandemic and we can’t do anything to exacerbate that, especially repatriating people there who we don’t know whether they are positive or not. The safest thing is to shelter in place, and everyone needs to shelter in place….I’m deeply concerned about the health and safety of ICE’s practices during this pandemic. COVID-19 is extremely contagious and in spite of reports that people in ICE detention have tested positive for the virus, it is still deporting individuals who may have been exposed to countries without the resources to properly combat this disease,” said U.S. Rep Donna Shalala, D-Miami. ‘ICE’s irresponsible practices risk not only jeopardizing the health of the people in custody here in the U.S., but also worsening the crisis abroad.’”
- In Massachusetts, advocates are also urging the US to stop deportation flights to Haiti. WBUR highlighted, “Ira Alkalay, an attorney based in Fall River, has a client from Boston who’s scheduled to be deported back to Haiti on Tuesday.‘I know that he has been in three different facilities in the last week and that there have been COVID-19 positives in all of those facilities,’ Alkalay said. The island nation of Haiti is still rebuilding 10 years after a devastating earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak crippled the country’s infrastructure and already fragile health care system.”
According to Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
Deporting people who have been in U.S. detention facilities – a hotspot for the spread of viruses – underscores the Trump administration’s misplaced priorities and reckless disregard for global public health during a pandemic. They are prioritizing their continued relentless effort to keep the deportation machine humming no matter the likely cost to the lives of people in countries that don’t have a public health infrastructure to deal with a pandemic. Trump and his administration may be thinking that they can just deport a virus or Haitians exposed to the virus in the US are expendable along with Haitians they may infect if they are exposed and deported. The lack of a moral compass and the prioritization of his nativist agenda above the cost in human lives is a tremendous indictment of President Trump and a stain on America.