Haitian presidential panel has recently called for the suspension of U.S. deportations, citing demands they place on country’s scarce human and material resources


Boston (May 19, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, today called on the Trump administration to halt all deportation to Haiti during the coronavirus pandemic. A recent media story reported that an initial manifest for a deportation flight headed to Haiti earlier this month included the names of at least five detainees with positive coronavirus test results. The detainees were subsequently removed from the flight, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proceeded to deport fifty passengers, including children and thirty-six adults with no criminal backgrounds. The Trump administration has continued deportations to Haiti even following reports that at least three previously deported individuals tested positive for the coronavirus after their arrival in Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and its public health infrastructure has not recovered from a devastating 2010 earthquake or the subsequent nine-year long cholera epidemic. Last week, an Haitian presidential panel called for the suspension of U.S. deportations, citing the demands they place on Haiti’s scarce human and material resources.


“It is unacceptable that ICE is including on deportation flight manifests individuals known to have tested positive for the coronavirus,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf. “Deportation flights to any country during this time endanger passengers and crewmembers. Moreover, they increase the likelihood that the United States may export infections to countries with weak public health infrastructure. Every COVID-19 case introduced to Haiti and similarly situated countries could leave an exponentially expanding wake of suffering.” 


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


In his letter, Senator Markey asks for responses to questions that include:

  • Has ICE knowingly deported to Haiti or any other country any individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus?
  • Are all individuals scheduled for deportation tested for the coronavirus before their scheduled departure?
  • What is the current protocol for dealing with deportees who test positive?
  • Does current ICE policy prohibit the deportation of individuals known to have tested positive for the coronavirus?
  • If ICE’s policy is to not deport individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus, why were at least five such individuals reportedly included on an initial flight manifest for a May 11, 2020 deportation flight to Haiti?


Senator Markey is a leading champion for protections for Haitians in the United States, consistently calling for extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) status. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, Senator Markey traveled to Haiti to observe the humanitarian response. He led the effort in the Senate to pressure the United Nations to accept full responsibility for the cholera outbreak and deliver financial assistance to victims and their families that were affected by the epidemic. The United Nations finally publicly apologized in December 2016.