Frank Killick outside the CARDH house holding all his belongings in a box marked "Department of Homeland Security.": Photo Amy BrackenThe United States has resumed deporting Haitians back to their impoverished country after a brief pause last year. Amy Bracken reports on one effort to help the deportees, a program run mostly by former deportees themselves.
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LISA MULLINS: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Haiti last month. She told reporters that the US is reconsidering its policy of deporting undocumented Haitians. Haitians have been lobbying the US government to hold off on deportations since last summer, when four storms slammed the impoverished country. And the US did indeed hold off â€“ for a few months. But this spring, the US resumed deportations. Last month, about 100 so-called â€œcriminal deporteesâ€ arrived back in Port-au-Prince. Correspondent Amy Bracken has our story.
AMY BRACKEN: Down the road from Port-au-Prince's international airport, six men are standing outside a police station. These men are members of the Center for Support for Haitian Deportees. The French acronym is CARDH. All but one of them are deportees themselves, and they're awaiting the newest arrivals. When the buses pull up, CARDH gives the new deportees a rousing welcome.
CERAT PRUD'HOMME: There they go. That's them; that's my dog. Hold up! Hold up! That's them! Yes! Yes! And we say, welcome to the jungle! And this is what we're about to do! This is our brothers coming here. We got to support them! We got to show them how to make their way through Haiti, because living in Haiti's hard and these guys is new, and we're going to help them make it right.
BRACKEN: That's Cerat Prud'Homme. He was deported to Haiti from New York 17 years ago. Eight years later, he founded CARDH to help provide housing, counseling, and other services to new deportees. Most Haitian deportees grew up in the United States; many have no family ties here and don't speak Creole. Prud'Homme works as an interpreter for the UN. He uses some of his salary to rent a house to shelter deportees. But his group, CARDH, is always struggling for money. Last year, the US provided funding for the International Organization for Migration to help re-settle deportees. But this year, there's no funding for new arrivals, and US officials say they don't know if that will change. Back at the deportee processing center, police won't let CARDH members in the door. So some of them do outreach through the slatted windows.
JEAN PIERRE: Yo, any of you guys homeless, man? Don't have no peoples coming over? You know, we're an organization that helps deportees. Yo, put your name and number here, bro.
BRACKEN: One deportee comes to the window to talk to me and another CARDH member, Max Dominique.
MAX DOMINIQUE: What is your name?
FRANK KILLICK: Frank Killick.
DOMINIQUE: So he's from the Bahamas, and he's being deported to Haiti. He's not even from here. He has no family here.
BRACKEN: Did you ever live here?
KILLICK: No, I never live here.
BRACKEN: So you don't know anyone here?
KILLICK: No. I don't know nobody here, man. It's my first time touching this soil right here. I don't know nothing about Haiti.
DOMINIQUE: That's illegal deportation.
BRACKEN: So what are you going to do now?
DOMINIQUE: We going to get his information and we're going to call his people. CARDH is going to call his people.
KILLICK: Ain't none of my family know I'm here.
BRACKEN: Killick says he served a year in prison for attempting to escape arrest for cocaine possession. Then immigration authorities detained him because he was undocumented. He was ordered deported to the Bahamas, where he was born, but that country rejected him. His Haitian parents never registered him as a Bahamian citizen, so by default he's a Haitian citizen, even though he's never lived here. Dominique and his colleagues sign Killick out, and they take him back to the CARDH house in Port-au-Prince. CARDH can't afford to feed Killick for more than a few days, so members make some calls trying to get donations.
DOMINIQUE: Listen, he's not going to be here long term. We need â€“ listen.
BRACKEN: But without much luck.
DOMINIQUE: Okay. No problem. Sorry. Sorry I asked you for your help, Miss.
BRACKEN: But it turns out that Killick does have family here â€“ a half brother, Lynri Killick, lives in Gonaives, the city devastated by last fall's hurricanes. Lynri takes a six-hour bus ride to Port-au-Prince to meet his brother. The two have never met, but they've spoken on the phone a few times, when Lynri called the US to ask for money. Lynri says he lost everything in last year's storms, and he looks emaciated. The Killick brothers are disappointed to hear there's nothing more CARDH can do for them and that they have to go back to Gonaives. Before they go, Pierre gives Frank a bit of advice. He tells Frank he'll have to beg.
PIERRE: I see you don't like to beg. I feel sorry to ask somebody for something, you know? But you can't stay like that, otherwise you're going to be like your cousin inside, yo. You see that dude's chest, man? That's malnutrition, man.
BRACKEN: After the Killicks leave, Pierre and another colleague head out again. They're back to the police station to try to help another deportee in detention. For The World, I'm Amy Bracken, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.