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01/18/2010

ICE assists in Haiti relief effort

ICE agents preparing to leave from the airport in Haiti
ICE relief convoy into Haiti
Haitians in line for supplies outside ICE relief convoy
Haitians in line for supplies outside ICE relief convoy
As the relief effort continues in support of the victims of the January 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti, leaving more than 100,000 dead in the tiny island nation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is contributing to the response.

Among ICE agents' top contributions to the relief effort has been to provide security on supply convoys organized by the U.S. State Department to transport critical supplies to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. These convoys, requiring round trips of up to 16 hours, are ensuring that much-needed water, food, fuel and medical supplies are getting into the capital city on a regular and reliable basis. On one return trip, the convoy transported 96 evacuees out of Port-au-Prince to be taken to the Dominican Republic, and subsequently to the United States. To date, three round trips have been completed and a fourth is in progress.

ICE, working closely with other U.S. government agencies, has also facilitated the evacuation of orphaned children who have been granted humanitarian parole to temporarily enter the United States. On Tuesday, a plane carrying 53 Haitian orphans to be placed in protective care with American families landed in Pittsburgh, where it was met by personnel from ICE and other agencies.

ICE's additional contributions to the Haiti response effort include the following:

  • ICE has deployed a team of agents to partner with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to streamline and facilitate departures for U.S. citizens who may be in Haiti. The goal is to make their return to the United States as rapid and seamless as possible.
  • ICE has also temporarily suspended removals to Haiti of Haitian nationals who have been ordered removed from the United States.
  • As needed, ICE agents may provide support to local law enforcement in Haiti.
  • As needed, ICE is working with DHS partners to develop contingency response and logistical plans in the event that large numbers of Haitian citizens require shelter or relocation.

ICE has a long history of support for disaster relief efforts, both international and domestic. In recent years, ICE personnel have responded to offer assistance following hurricane activity along the Gulf Coast, heavy flooding in Iowa and other critical incidents.

For more information on the U.S. government's response to the Haiti situation, and for information on how you can securely donate to support the relief effort, please visit the White House "Help for Haiti" site.