Freeing US deportees from Haitian prison a call to action by advocates – NorthJersey.com

Immigrant advocate groups have launched a “call to action” urging members to contact state and federal officials to demand freedom for immigrants who have recently been deported to Haiti and thrown into prison in the Caribbean nation.
At least 20 deportees have been jailed upon arrival in the past six months, while police officials demand thousands of dollars from their family members in the United States. The deportees include Patrick Julney, a New Jersey man who was deported June 7 and imprisoned in Port-au-Prince the same day. And a Philadelphia family said their relative, Bergson Morin, who was deported in February, is being held in the same prison.
Detained at the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, they face severe overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of food and water. They have not been charged, nor seen a judge, the men said.
“[Immigration and Customs Enforcement] deported Patrick and numerous others straight into indefinite detention in Haiti. Please help demand their immediate release!” wrote Movimiento Cosecha, an immigrant advocacy group, in an alert to their members.
“The detentions are illegal under Haitian and international law,” organizers added. “The conditions at the jail are inhumane and life-threatening.”
Activists are calling for action from U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez — both of whom represent New Jersey and sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — and from officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Haitian Embassy.
Spokespeople for Booker and Menendez — who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee — did not respond to requests for comment about Julney’s case, the detention of other deportees or reports of “extortion” from American families. The Democratic senators have previously spoken against “historic mistreatment of Haitians” and the use of Title 42, a public health order to keep Haitians out of the U.S.
Haitian and U.S. agencies also did not respond to requests for comments.
Human rights groups say it’s inhumane to send people to Haiti because of an ongoing humanitarian crisis there, as well as widespread gang violence and the near-collapse of government institutions — conditions that have worsened since the assassination of Haiti’s president last year and a more recent earthquake.
Conditions are so bad that the prison system, among the most overcrowded in the world, ran out of food earlier this year, and dozens of prisoners have died from malnutrition.
Julney’s case has outraged immigrant advocates who rallied to free him from immigration detention in New Jersey, where he was held for three years after serving a nine-year criminal sentence for drug charges and robbery. Instead, he was deported to a country he does not remember — his parents brought him to the U.S. as a toddler.
Morin, 32, a green card holder in Philadelphia, served about five years for aggravated assault. He came to the U.S. at age 4. He graduated from the Brightwood Career Institute and became an electrician. He is also engaged, he said, through messages shared by his family.
“I want to go to work, have a family, a normal life,” he said.
“I wanted a life too and these people took it away from me,” he said. “Even though they knew it was wrong to deport us to this country. We have no actual government. It’s the gangs that control everything. There’s no nourishment.”
A family member in Haiti has to bring him food daily, or he does not eat, he said.
“Even if I don’t make it out of here alive, at least the world is gonna know,” he said. “Because this right here is not right.”
Keren Tripodi, Morin’s sister-in-law, said she has reached out to elected officials and the White House but received no response. Police in Haiti are asking for money to release him. “They are basically holding them for ransom,” she said.
The Haitian Embassy in Washington and the Ministry of Communications in Haiti did not respond to requests for comment about the situation.
Tripodi said she worries about Morin’s health and safety in jail. “He served his time in the U.S. and they are holding him for no reason … Everyone is stressed out and figuring out how to get him out of there.”


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