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US To Haitians: Despite Earthquake, Go Home

MIAMI (CBS4) - Haitians in the US illegally had been given a pass when it comes to deportations, thanks to the earthquake which devastated their country 11 months ago. Now, for some, that break is being ended.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said Friday that the U.S. expects to begin flying deportees with criminal records back to Haiti in January in coordination with Haiti's government. Many of the people who would be deported are South Florida residents or have family here.

Gonzalez says ICE must deport people with criminal records or release them, "if their repatriation is not reasonably foreseeable." US law allows the deportations of foreign nationals who commit a crime in the United States, even if they have documentation allowing them to be in the US legally.

The U.S. temporarily stopped deporting all Haitians after the Jan. 12 earthquake. Most undocumented Haitians in the US have been been granted temporary protected status, which allows them to remain in the US without official status due to the earthquake emergency.

Advocates and immigration attorneys say conditions in Haiti have not improved enough for deportations to resume. A cholera outbreak began in October, and the State Department on Thursday issued a travel warning for Haiti because of political unrest.

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