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The Haitians' documentation appears to have been overlooked in the frenzy to evacuate tens of thousands of people from a crippled airport during an epic humanitarian crisis.
The survivors, who all arrived in Florida by the end of January, told the attorneys they were waived aboard U.S. military planes without anyone asking for their papers.
By the end of February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection processed more than 31,000 people evacuated from Haiti, including roughly 7,200 foreign nationals. About 1,100 received humanitarian parole while others received tourist visas.
Haitians already living in the U.S. illegally by Jan. 12 were allowed to apply for temporary protected status, an 18-month reprieve from deportation that also allows recipients to work.
"In order to mitigate the probability that Haitians may attempt to make a potentially deadly journey to the US, we clearly articulated that those who traveled to the US illegally after January 12th may be arrested, detained, and placed in removal proceedings," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian P. Hale said in a statement.
Most of the 30 Haitians detained in Florida have been ordered to be deported even though the Department of Homeland Security suspended deportations to Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake, said attorneys from the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center.
They were detained even though they had no criminal histories and they were severely traumatized, the attorneys said.
A story about the detainees was first reported in The New York Times.
The attorneys have asked ICE officials to release the Haitians.
"Rather than help this small group of grief-stricken earthquake survivors, the Government's actions are only harming them," FIAC attorneys Charu Newhouse al-Sahli and Allison Kent wrote to an ICE official in Florida on March 19.
A relative said a nephew detained at a Broward County facility would be released Thursday.