Deported to Nowhere

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Frank Killick had never set foot in Haiti—until last April, when the U.S. government dumped him into the impoverished capital of Port-au-Prince. The 24-year-old was born in the Bahamas and grew up in Miami, but he is legally Haitian. So when he was convicted of a minor crime in Florida, he was deported “home,” with no money, no job prospects, no friends, and no hope. “It’s my first time touching this soil right here,” Killick tells Amy Bracken for NACLA Report on the Americas (Sept.-Oct. 2009). “I don’t know nothing about Haiti.”

Killick was among the first people “returned” to Haiti after a series of storms in August 2008, which whipped through a country where devastation is already the norm. Despite the lingering damage, the United States plans to deport 29,000 more Haitians in the coming months and years, both legal and illegal immigrants caught up in the criminal justice system. And a report by the Port-au-Prince–based Ecumenical Center for Human Rights suggests that many of them will feel about as Haitian as Killick does. “Most deportees left Haiti when they were younger than 7 years old and lived in the United States for more than 20 years,” NACLA notes. “Some don’t speak the local language, Creole, know nothing about the country, and have only distant family ties there.”

Months after Killick’s involuntary arrival, NACLA found him living with his long-lost half brother in the northern town of Gonaïves, where “some homes remain underwater, downtown businesses are shuttered, and the population has been diminished by sheer lack of opportunity.”

 “If my brother goes back [to the United States], maybe he can help me,” Killick’s brother explains to NACLA. “But if we both stay here, we have no hope.”