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Chaos on tarmac at Haiti’s main airport after US deports migrants

<i>Joseph Odelyn/AP</i><br/>Police officers try to block a deportee from boarding the same plane he and others were deported in.
Joseph Odelyn/AP
Police officers try to block a deportee from boarding the same plane he and others were deported in.

By Valentina DiDonato and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

Chaotic scenes broke out at Haiti’s main airport on Tuesday after migrants who had been deported from the United States were flown back home.

Thousands of Haitians have fled the country due to a combination of political instability following the assassination of the president in August and an earthquake in the same month that left more than 1,200 people dead.

Democratic lawmakers have urged the Biden administration to stop deporting those who’ve fled Haiti for the US, but the White House remains committed to returning them.

Furious Haitians crowded the tarmac at Port-au-Prince airport after being dropped off by a deportation flight they say they were given little prior notice of, a journalist at the scene told CNN.

A group of men rushed back toward a plane after they disembarked, with one man attempting to get back on board, witnesses told Reuters.

“I am angry at the government. We were told in prison that the Haitian government had signed to send us back to Haiti. They are all bad people, these authorities,” said Yranese Melidor, 45, who arrived on an earlier flight, Reuters reported.

“We didn’t see any US presence except for the aircraft. From what I observed, it basically looked like they were flown there and left,” journalist Erlen Ofte Arntsen told CNN of the people he spoke with at the airport in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday.

The migrants were angry at what they described as prison-like conditions in the US holding centers they were detained in before they were flown back, Arnsten said.

“They had to stay there for days in very close quarters, one meal a day, not being able to shower. And they also did not realize they were being sent back to Haiti before yesterday. They thought they might be going into another [place of] confinement,” Arntsen added.

The US Department of Homeland Security acknowledge the “disruptions on the tarmac” in Port-au-Prince saying Haitian crowd control officers resolved the situation.

“On Tuesday, Sept. 21, some adult migrants caused two separate disruptions on the tarmac after deplaning in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haitian crowd control officers responded to both incidents and resolved the situations. ICE fully respects the rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions, while continuing to perform its immigration enforcement mission consistent with our priorities, federal law and agency policy,” a DHS spokesperson told CNN.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

With additional reporting from Reuters.

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