U.S. Restarts Deportation Flights to Haiti

Immigration officials sent dozens of Haitians back to their home country on Thursday, according to three government officials, in the first deportation flight conducted by the United States government in months to the country, which has been gripped by widespread violence.

Deportation flights are generally viewed as a way to deter migrants from crossing the southern border without authorization. The United States has been concerned about migration from Haiti after a gang takeover of its capital, Port-au-Prince, this year led to the planned resignation of the prime minister, Ariel Henry.

The deportation flight, the first since January, comes as the Biden administration continues to turn toward tougher measures at the southern border as a way to bring down the number of migrants entering the country without authorization. President Biden has faced intense scrutiny from Republicans about the border, and immigration has become a key issue in the election campaign.

In recent months, however, migrants are crossing the border at lower rates than before.

Still, the deportation flight on Thursday caught many immigrant advocacy groups by surprise. The U.S. government itself advises Americans not to visit Haiti, citing “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure,” and has previously told family members of American officials in Haiti to leave.

“This is not only morally wrong and in violation of U.S. and international law, it is simply bad foreign policy,” said Guerline Jozef, the head of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, an advocacy group in San Diego.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that it had “conducted a repatriation flight of around 50 Haitian nationals to Haiti.”

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