SAN DIEGO — The Latest on U.S. efforts to resume regular deportations of Haitians amid a surge of new arrivals at California border crossings with Mexico (all times local):
A top U.S. immigration official says 40,000 Haitians may be on their way to the United States amid what she calls an “emergency situation” on California’s border with Mexico.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana said Thursday in Washington that the estimate came from other governments during a recent trip she made to Central America.
Saldana told the House Judiciary Committee that word of the new arrivals contributed to the Homeland Security Department’s announcement on Thursday that it was lifting special protections shielding Haitians from deportation that were put in place after their country’s 2010 earthquake. She says changing conditions in Haiti also played a part.
The Haitians are coming from Brazil and traveling through Central America and Mexico.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it is widening efforts to deport Haitians, a response to thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean nation who overwhelmed California border crossings with Mexico in recent months.
The move announced Thursday lifts special protections that shielded Haitians from deportation after their nation’s 2010 earthquake. Since 2011, U.S. authorities have avoided deporting Haitians unless they were convicted of serious crimes or posed a national security threat. Now they will be treated like people from other countries.
Secretary Jeh Johnson said the new posture doesn’t apply to Haitians who got temporary status to live and work in the U.S. after the earthquake and have remained in the country since January 2011.