Fox News is reporting that Defense Department officials have indicated that part of the U.S. relief effort in response to yesterday’s earthquake in Haiti may involve temporarily relocating Haitian refugees and housing some of them at Camp Justice in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Fox News cited remarks made by Gen. Douglas Fraser at an afternoon press briefing:
Asked at an afternoon press briefing whether Guantanamo Bay is under consideration to house Haitian refugees or detain Haitian criminals, a top military official told reporters the naval base is a possibility.
“It’s a resource that’s available if we need to take advantage of it for various reasons,” said Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command. “So we’re looking across the region to just understand what the possibilites are there.”
In recent months, military officials at the base have said that – after the detention facilities are closed as President Obama has promised – Camp Justice might still remain so that refugees from the Caribbean could be housed there if necessary.
However, as Shepard Smith of Fox News pointed out during his afternoon segment, Camp Justice would not be large enough to accommodate the massive needs of the large number of refugees that such a devastating disaster will inevitably entail. A Department of Homeland Security spokesman announced earlier today that the agency is halting all deportations of undocumented Haitian immigrants as of today. However, Haitians scheduled for deportation will remain in U.S. detention centers. The Wonk Room has suggested granting undocumented Haitian immigrants already in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status which would allow them to legally work and send money back to their relatives at home and help their families get back on their feet.
“Four members of the American embassy staff in Haiti have been evacuated to the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, officials said.”