[JURIST] The US Customs and Border Protection [official website] has arrested 115 Haitians who have crossed the border illegally since the January 12 earthquake [NYT backgrounder, JURIST news archive], according to Sunday reports. Mark Henry, operations officer for the Border Patrol's Swanton sector [official website], which covers 261 miles of the US-Canada border from New Hampshire through Vermont to New York said that 114 Haitians have been arrested in Vermont [Burlington Free Press report] and one in New York. Many of the Haitians, previously deported from the US and seeking refugee status in Canada, returned to reconnect with remaining relatives in the US after losing family in the earthquake. Additionally, it is suspected that the illegal entrants are returning to the US with hopes that the 18-month Temporary Protected Status (TPS) [JURIST report] will allow them to reestablish themselves and strengthen their case for citizenship. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] granted TPS and placed a ban on deportation and removal proceedings of Haitian nationals in order to provide a temporary refuge for those already present in the US on January 12, regardless of their immigration status.
US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] said in January that Haitians who arrived illegally after the earthquake would be sent back to Haiti [JURIST report]. Napolitano told a news conference 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. Additionally, the DHS announced that the US would allow Haitian orphans into the country [JURIST report] to receive needed care in the aftermath of the 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]. Thousands 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 [WP report], but Haitian officials have estimated that between 100,000 to 200,000 have died as a result of the earthquake.