Congresswoman Frederica Wilson

Representing the 24th District of Florida

Wilson Hosts Forum on COVID-19 in Haiti and the Dangers of Continued U.S. Deportations

May 29, 2020
Press Release

Today, Congresswoman Wilson hosted a forum titled “An Impending Crisis: COVID-19 in Haiti, Ongoing Instability, and the Dangers of Continued U.S. Deportations,” featuring House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel; Leonie Hermantin, Haitian community leader and director of Development, Communications, and Strategic Planning for the Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center; Clarel Cyriaque, a practicing attorney who represents immigrants facing deportation; Dan Erikson, senior fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and former special advisor to Vice President Joe Biden; Cate Oswald, chief policy and partnership officer for Partners in Health; and Jake Johnston, senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. 

“Deportations in the middle of a pandemic are tantamount to a death sentence for Haitians who don’t have access to the same level of health care that is available to us in the United States. That is why I introduced the Haitian Deportation Relief Act. My bill would place a moratorium on deportations to Haiti until the COVID-19 emergency has ended in both there and the U.S. This legislation is desperately needed to ensure that our government is not culpable in exporting the virus abroad, especially to a nation already on the brink,” said Congresswoman Wilson, whose district is home to one of the nation’s largest Haitian communities. “But I also want to be clear that this is not the time to take our eyes off of Haiti’s many long-standing needs. We must continue to help this nation recover from years of non-governance, unrest, poverty, and economic ruin.”

“It’s downright barbaric that the Trump administration has been deporting Haitian nationals infected with coronavirus back to Haiti, back to a country we all know is too fragile to handle a serious outbreak. We must fight against this injustice. We must support Haitian-Americans and the U.S.-Haiti relationship,” said Chairman Engel. “Congresswoman Wilson’s Haitian Deportation Relief Act addresses this issue head-on. We also must extend TPS for the tens of thousands of hardworking Haitian Americans throughout the country. While our immediate focus is to stop these inhumane deportations, we can’t lose sight of the other critical issues facing Haiti—especially on human rights and the rule of law. These have been central concerns for Haitians over the past few years. Haitians deserve justice and accountability for the violence and corruption they’ve been subjected to for years.”

Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern; Reps. Barbara Lee, Gregory Meeks, Jan Schakowsky, Andy Levin, and Ayana Pressley; and Tessa Petit, Haitian liaison for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, also delivered brief remarks.

To view the Zoom forum, click here and to read transcripts as prepared for delivery of remarks from Wilson, Engel, and the experts, click here.