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Haiti earthquake refugees may not migrate to US: DHS secretary

[JURIST] US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] said Friday that Haitians who arrived illegally after last week's earthquake [JURIST news archive] would be sent back to Haiti. Napolitano told a news conference [Reuters report] that Haitians should not view the earthquake as an open opportunity to migrate to the US, but should remain in their country to help rebuild. Last Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] granted temporary protective status [JURIST report] to Haitians that were in the US prior to the earthquake in order to provide "a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti." She noted however, that "attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation."

The DHS announced on Monday that the US will allow Haitian orphans into the country [JURIST report] to receive needed care in the aftermath of last week's 7.0 magnitude earthquake [USGS backgrounder] that caused massive damage to property and infrastructure in Haiti. The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti [official website] has said that up to 50 percent of buildings [statement, PDF] have been destroyed or damaged, including the presidential palace, the UN Mission headquarters, and the main prison, allowing nearly 4,000 inmates to escape [JURIST report]. Thousand of US military troops have been deployed to assist the Haitian police and international peacekeepers as they confront rising lawlessness [JURIST report] in the country. UN officials say the death toll may never be known [Washington Post report], but Haitian officials have estimated that between 100,000 to 200,000 have died as a result of the earthquake.

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