On Democracy Now we’ve talked a lot about secret detentions and deportations as part of the wave of repression against Arabs and South Asians since September 11th.
But Haitians are also a target. On Monday, more than two dozen Haitians were summarily deported from the US. They had been held in maximum-security prisons for more than six months and denied access to medical care, interpretation services, lawyers and legal materials.
Most of the deportees were survivors of a highly publicized sailboat journey to South Florida. On December 3rd, nearly two hundred asylum seekers aboard a crammed, 31-foot wooden boat ran aground off Miami’s shores. Their arrival triggered a tightening in immigration policy toward Haitian migrants. Before December, Haitians who were able to show a credible fear of persecution in their homeland lived freely while they waited for their case to be reviewed.
But since December, Haitian asylum seekers are kept in prolonged detention while an immigration judge decides their status.
Immigration advocates, members of Miami’s Haitian community, and an array of local politicians have charged that the policy is racist and have filed a class-action lawsuit. This week they have been holding regular protests outside the INS offices in Miami. On Saturday, actor and activist Danny Glover met with some of the detained Haitian immigrants at a Miami jail and spoke at a Miami forum for worker rights.
- Danny Glover, actor and activist. He has been touring with the Economic Human Rights Bus Tour with the Institute for Policy Studies. Recently they visited some of the maximum-security prisons in Miami where the Haitian asylum seekers were held. Glover is currently working on a film about the Haitian revolution.
- Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. She has filed appeals on behalf of about 100 of the Haitian asylum seekers.
- Ray LaForest, co-coordinator of the Haiti Support Network, union organizer, and Pacifica national board member.