Human Rights First Urges DHS and Congress to Help Haitians Stranded by Quake
Human Rights First joined with dozens of other NGOs to urge DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to take crucial steps including rescinding the so-called “shout test”–a discriminatory non-process by which Haitians picked up at sea will be returned to Haiti unless they express fear through physical resistance or shouting. Read March 12, 2010, letter to Secretary Napolitano.
Human Rights First also joined dozens of other NGOs to urge Congress to support the Haitian Emergency Protection Act of 2010 (S. 2998 and H. 4616), which would allow 55,000 Haitians with approved family visa applications to enter the United States to join their families while waiting for their green cards. Read April 12, 2010, letter to Congress.
For the Victims of the Earthquake in Haiti
Human Rights First extends its deepest sympathies to those affected by the earthquake, and their loved ones. We welcome Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano’s announcement that the United States will extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitians living in the United States, and urge the Obama administration to revisit the United States’ flawed and discriminatory policies on interdiction at sea and develop standards that comport with this country’s human rights commitments and its values.
Read the press release (02/15/10).
Read Huffington Post article by HRF’s Eleanor Acer (2/10/10).
Edwidge Danticat Testifies on Reverend Dantica’s Death in Immigration Detention
On October 4, 2007, Edwidge Danticat testified about the death of her uncle, Reverend Joseph Dantica, in immigration detention after he came to the U.S. in search of protection from persecution in Haiti. Ms. Danticat was one of the witnesses at a Congressional hearing on immigration detention medical care that was held before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.
Rev. Dantica, a Baptist minister, died while in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in late 2004. During her testimony, Ms. Danticat recalled the circumstances preceding her uncle’s death and spoke out against conditions of medical treatment in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention. In the wake of Rev. Dantica’s case the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also called on U.S. immigration authorities to stop detaining asylum seekers like Rev. Dantica, who arrive on valid travel documents, because they indicate that they might seek refuge from persecution in the U.S.
To read Ms. Danticat’s testimony, click here.
Investigation Needed After Baptist Minister’s Death in U.S. Immigration Jail
Baptist Minister Joseph Dantica fled Haiti and asked for asylum at the Miami Airport on October 29, 2004. The Department of Homeland Security put the 81-year-old reverend in an immigration jail in Miami. Several days later, Rev. Dantica died in DHS custody. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in February 2005, recommended that DHS no longer jail asylum seekers who arrive, like Reverend Dantica, on their own passports and visas, and request asylum.
Haitian Refugees at Risk Due to U.S. Interdiction Policies
Despite escalating political upheaval and violence
in Haiti, in February 2004 the Bush Administration declared that it will continue to
return to Haiti any Haitians who are interdicted at sea.