Posted on Saturday, 02.18.12


Nearly 700 Haitian convicts released during moratorium on deportations

The disclosure by U.S. immigration comes after police revealed one convict released murdered three people in North Miami


Kesler Dufrene, who last year slaughtered three people in North Miami after being let out of immigration custody, wasn’t the only convict released to the streets because of a moratorium on deportations to Haiti.

According to newly released federal statistics, 687 Haitians slated for deportation were released to the streets in 2010 because of the year-long moratorium on deportations to the earthquake-ravaged island.

Of those, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took 90 back into custody and deported them to Haiti once the moratorium was lifted in January 2011. Another 16 are back in detention and are awaiting deportation.

And the rest, more than 500, are still out on the streets on supervised release or are out on their own recognizance. According to ICE, some are seeking “legal relief” to halt their deportations while others have been granted “an immigration benefit.”

Some are back in local jail after being re-arrested, according to ICE, which did not specify exactly how many have re-offended.

Dufrene’s case has stoked interest in immigration policy circles. Immigration foes decry the case as an example of weak federal deportation policies, while advocates say the man’s deplorable crime is an isolated incident in what is otherwise a flawed and inhumane deportation policy.

On humanitarian grounds, the Obama administration halted deportations to Haiti after an earthquake decimated the island. And since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that people slated for deportation cannot be held for more than six months, 687 Haitians were ultimately released after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Mark Krikorian, of the right-leaning Center for Immigration Studies in Washington D.C., says Dufrene’s case shows a glaring failure in how authorities monitor people slated for deportation who are not in custody

Tens of thousands of deportees, most of them Cubans convicted of serious felonies, are currently out on supervised probation because Cuba won’t accept them back. A Texas Republican House Representative last year unsuccessfully pushed a bill that would have given the government the right to indefinitely detain people who cannot be deported.

In Dufrene’s case, he was not required to wear any sort of electronic monitoring system. Instead, Dufrene simply had to present himself to immigration authorities in person once a month, which he did not do — although he did call immigration agents to reschedule shortly before the murders.

Of the hundreds of convicts currently released to the streets, only 55 are required to wear electronic monitors, according to ICE.

“If you think fewer people should be detained, you have to construct a very muscular system of keeping track of them,” said Krikorian.

But Cheryl Little, of Miami-based Americans for Immigrant Justice, said while the case was a “tragic circumstance,” it was nonetheless an “extremely isolated” incident. The island — ravaged by poverty and cholera — could not handle the influx of Haitians deportees, she said.

“Upon arrival, most Haitian deportees continue to be jailed under horrific conditions, much like the conditions experienced by Wildrick Guerrier, a 34-year-old deportee who died shortly after exhibiting cholera-like symptoms in a Haitian jail,” she said. “Soon afterward the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged the U.S. government to stop deporting Haitians with family ties in the U.S. or illnesses. That’s the least that our country should do.”

A convicted burglar from Manatee County, Dufrene was sentenced to five years in prison in 2005. While in prison, an immigration judge ordered that he be deported to Haiti.

When his prison term was up in September 2010, Dufrene was transferred to immigration custody and housed at the Krome Detention Center in West Miami-Dade. But ICE released him one month later — and two months after that, he fatally shot the Ashley Chow, 15, a family friend, Harlen Peralta, 25, and her boyfriend, Israel Rincon, 35, inside a North Miami house.

Krikorian, of the Center of Immigration Studies, questions why ICE did not hold Dufrene longer than one month when they could have held him for up to six months. “They could have detained him for [at least] five months,” Krikorian said.

Dufrene’s DNA was found on a rifle inside the house and cell phone tracking technology linked him to the area around the North Miami home. Why Dufrene targeted their home is unknown.

Eighteen days after the Jan. 2, 2011 murders, Manatee County deputies shot and killed him after an unrelated break-in and shooting there.

Around that same time — as it became clear that the moratorium would be lifted — ICE mounted an operation that netted 93 Haitian convicts scheduled for deportation. Dufrene was not among that group.

At that time, 332 Haitian deportees were already in custody awaiting deportation.

“ICE efforts to repatriate criminal Haitian nationals who have been ordered removed from the United States remain ongoing,” according to an ICE spokeswoman. “ICE regularly encounters and apprehends criminal Haitian nationals through our enforcement programs.”

Nearly 700 Haitian convicts released during moratorium on deportations - Breaking News -