Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced on Wednesday the temporary suspension of removal flights for Haitian nationals in light of Hurricane Matthew, which has led to at least 1,000 deaths, a devastating cholera outbreak, and a massive crop loss, spurring fears of famine in Haiti.
On September 22, Johnson announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would resume regular removals to Haiti, which had temporarily ceased after a catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in January 2010.
Following the earthquake, Haitians were removed only if they had finals orders of removal and were convicted of a serious crime, or if they posed a national security threat. Despite the temporary halt in flights, Johnson said the policy calling for the removal of Haitian nationals in accordance with existing enforcement priorities will not change.
“Working with the government of Haiti, DHS intends to resume those flights as soon as possible,” Johnson said. “This should be clear: the policy change I announced on September 22 remains in effect, for now and in the future. DHS and the Department of State are working with the Government of Haiti and others to ensure removals occur in as humane and minimally intrusive a manner as possible.”