MIAMI – One of the first Haitians deported to that Caribbean nation since a January 2010 earthquake has died there after suffering cholera-like symptoms in jail, immigration rights activists said Tuesday.
Wildrick Guerrier, 34, was deported to Haiti with 26 others Jan. 20, the first group sent home since the quake devastated the capital of that poor nation, they said. All but one of those deported had been convicted of a crime in the United States.
The Miami-based immigration rights advocates complain that Haiti's notoriously unsanitary jails pose a grave risk for those sent back, adding Guerrier was healthy when he left but was crowded into a jail cell with 17 other men after arriving.
A cholera epidemic in Haiti has killed at least 4,000 people since October and sickened 200,000 more.
At least one other deportee is now suffering from cholera-like symptoms in Haiti, said Michelle Karshan of Alternative Chance, a group that works with criminal deportees to Haiti.
After being detained in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, Guerrier was released to an aunt's care late last week and died Saturday, Karshan said. Karshan said the man was vomiting and had severe diarrhea in jail before his release.
"He was having that diarrhea in a very tight space crowded with other people, so everybody had exposure," Karshan said.
Guerrier had served less than two years in a U.S. jail for a conviction on a charge of possessing a firearm by a convicted felon while he was working as an armed security guard, said Cheryl Little of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. She said that charge stemmed from a previous conviction for battery on a law enforcement officer, for which he had served probation.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it expects this year to deport about 700 Haitians convicted of crimes.
No Haitians have been deported since Jan. 20, ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said.
She referred questions about Guerrier's death to the State Department, which said it would have no information.
Several groups have asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to seek to stop further deportations.
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