South Florida activists call for halt to Haitian deportations

Organizations collect items to send to Hurricane Matthew victims

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Marie Jeune cried Monday as she spoke about her 21-year-old son, who is one of more than 300 Haitians detained while crossing the U.S. border through Mexico.

The group is scheduled for deportation.

Jeune was the guest of a coalition of advocacy groups calling for a halt to deportations to hurricane-ravaged Haiti and an extension of the temporary protected status offered to refugees seeking safety from countries made dangerous by violence or natural disaster.

On Sept. 22, President Barack Obama's administration reinstated deportations that had been stayed because of conditions in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that hit the Caribbean island.

"Outrageously, three weeks ago they announced they were going to start deporting again, saying the conditions had improved," said Steven Forester, an immigration advocate for Haitian refugees. "Everyone knows that's not true and wasn't true (before the hurricane). But Matthew makes it obscene to contemplate deporting people."

South Florida members of Congress and dozens of others sent a bipartisan letter to Obama asking for the deportations to be halted.

Meanwhile, a warehouse in Miami Gardens was one of several places Monday where a steady stream of donations were delivered for a Haiti-bound relief effort.

In the front office, volunteers took a telephone call from a contact on the ground in a neighborhood in south Haiti that was leveled by the hurricane.

 "It's a disaster. (There are) no words I can use to describe what I'm seeing; the poverty, the need," Ernso Jean-Louis said in describing the dire straits for many Haitians. "You can see the misery. All the houses are destroyed entirely, all the rooftops -- the land is empty -- no trees left on the ground."

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