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Ah, nothing like immigration to really feel the fubar of bureaucracy. When I first read this, I was thinking this was some sort of bad joke on April Fools, but nope, our fine government actually did this.

Rushed From Haiti, Then Jailed for Lacking Visas


More than two months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, at least 30 survivors who were waved onto planes by Marines in the chaotic aftermath are prisoners of the United States immigration system, locked up since their arrival in detention centers in Florida.

But when they landed in the United States without visas, they were taken into custody by immigration authorities and held for deportation, even though deportations to Haiti have been suspended indefinitely since the earthquake. Legal advocates who stumbled on the survivors in February at the Broward County Transitional Center, a privately operated immigration jail in Pompano Beach, Fla., have tried for weeks to persuade government officials to release them to citizen relatives who are eager to take them in, letters and affidavits show.

Now two very important things about these people:

  1. None have a criminal background
  1. They were greenlighted onto US military transports by US Marines

Another important aspect of this is that these are Haitians "stumbled" upon with many more still out there in the system. A private system that is for profit, mind you.

The government’s actions have been especially bewildering for the survivors’ relatives, like Virgile Ulysse, 69, an American citizen who keeps an Obama poster on his kitchen wall in Norwalk, Conn. Mr. Ulysse said he could not explain to his nephews, Jackson, 20, and Reagan, 25, why they were brought to the United States on a military plane only to be jailed at the Broward center when they arrived in Orlando on Jan. 19.

On March 11, Reagan was abruptly transferred, and for days his younger brother did not know where he was. It turned out he had been taken to the Baker County jail, in Macclenny, Fla., six hours away. On Tuesday evening, a paralegal found him there in shackles, about to be transferred again; guards, following government protocol, would not say where.

Found him shackles? What is this, western China? Our military brings them to America, drops them off, and they are taken directly to jail?

Do not pass Go? Do not visit immigration, just straight to freaking jail?

Makes you wonder why the Haitians would even get on the planes, so how did a couple get on board?

Mike Kenson Delva, 21, asked a Marine for a job and was assigned to help board a young boy whose leg had been amputated, along with the boy’s wheelchair-bound mother. Suddenly, the plane took off.


Mr. Jean-Baptiste describes putting his little brother and a cousin’s baby on top of a collapsed concrete wall during the quake, as they all prayed and cried. Afterward, "we had nothing to eat or drink," he said. "I thought if I stayed in Haiti any longer I would not survive, and my family would not survive, so I decided to try to board a plane." No one asked him for papers until he reached Orlando, he said.

Boy America, we sure know how to put out the welcome mat!

This should also go a long ways in showing just how broken our immigration system is when humanitarian refugees are treated like criminals once they reach our borders.

It'd be a sick dark joke if it unfortunately was not true.

Originally posted to RenderQT on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 11:27 AM PDT.

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