Illegal Haitians caught at U.S. border

Illegal Haitians caught at U.S. border
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | 2:37 PM ET Comments47Recommend41

CBC News

U.S. border officials say they’ve arrested a record number of Haitians trying to enter the country illegally from Canada since the January earthquake.

Observers say the arrests reflect the growing desperation among illegal Haitian immigrants in North America since the Jan. 12 devastation.

In the last two and a half months, border authorities said, they have caught 115 Haitians trying to cross the border by foot into Vermont and New York, including eight people over Easter weekend.

The Haitians had all been illegal aliens in the U.S. who were ordered deported before the earthquake, said Mark Henry, an operations officer with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Instead of complying, they fled to Canada “to see if they could not develop some [refugee] status there,” said Henry, who is based in Swanton, Vt.

Haitians arrested at the border were attempting to cross at night by foot. (Canadian Press)
They probably tried re-entering the U.S. to take advantage of an 18-month ban on deportations to Haiti, enacted by the Obama administration after the earthquake. Many were heading to New York City and Miami, cities that both have large Haitian populations.

There is a urgency among Haitians who want to help their fellow nationals dealing with the earthquake fallout, said Marie Villefranche, a Montreal community activist. Many of them feel they can get more work in the U.S. in order to send money home.

But they misunderstood the U.S. deportation edict, which only applies to people who were actually on U.S. soil the day of the earthquake, she said.

Haitians living in North American were remitting between $50 and $100 a month for family at home, but many are now trying to double those amounts, said Villefranche, who works at La Maison d’Haiti.

It’s not clear what will happen to the Haitians arrested at the border.

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