Jennifer Kay, AP, September 19, 2008
No deportations to storm-crippled Haiti are planned, federal immigration officials said Friday, an encouraging sign to advocates who say the Caribbean country needs more time to recover before it can deal with fresh arrivals.
No removals from the U.S. are scheduled, and federal officials were evaluating conditions in the country, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez. Haiti is trying to rise from the wreckage left behind by three hurricanes and a tropical storm within a month.
The conditions in impoverished Haiti are horrendous, leaders say. At least 425 people were killed and thousands left homeless by severe flooding after the storms.
Relief efforts have been hindered by Haiti’s neglected infrastructure. Aid agencies and diplomats say mass hunger is a risk because the storms wiped out Haiti’s crops and damaged irrigation systems and pumping stations.
Even before the storms, skyrocketing food prices sparked violent protests across the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country this spring. Haiti’s chronic political and economic instability have prompted a U.S. State Department warning against travel to the country of 8.5 million people.