Between sobs, Haitian-American Claudine Magloire accused the U.S. government of responsibility in the death of her late fiancé, Wildrick Guerrier.
Guerrier was deported to Haiti on January 20 despite complaining of stomach pains. He died two days later.
"They are the cause of my husband's death," Magloire said during a press conference this afternoon. "If he hadn't been sent back (to Haiti), he would be standing here today."
The mood of the conference was a mixture of grief and outrage.
Immigration activists are incensed that, just a year after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed roughly 300,000 Haitians, the Obama administration has restarted deportations to the cholera-stricken island.
"The US government has blood on its hands," said Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) that hosted the event. She said that of the 350 Haitians awaiting deportation in several jails in Louisiana, 27 -- including Guerrier -- had been deported to date. After Guerrier's death, however, the other 26 were released from Haiti's notoriously disease-ridden jails.
It's not yet clear if Guerrier died of cholera. He and 25 other detainees were already weakened from a week of hunger strikes that ended only a few days before their deportation.
Magloire said that Guerrier was worried about contracting cholera in a Haitian prison when they spoke over the phone before his deportation. He was released a day later after becoming seriously ill, only to die the next day.
Mere Meregne Longchamps, the wife of another Haitian detainee awaiting deportation in Louisiana, said she was "terrified" of what would happen to her husband if he was also sent to a Port-au-Prince jail.
The Department of Homeland Security has said it is only deporting Haitians convicted of violent crimes. Records show Guerrier was charged with several felonies in Broward County including cocaine possession, resisting arrest, and battery of a police officer. It's unclear which -- if any -- of these resulted in conviction.
But both Magloire and Little ridiculed the notion that Guerrier was a convict worthy of deportation.
"He was one of the guys (the other detainees) looked to for emotional inspiration," Little said.
"He was a loving, loving, loving man," Magloire added between tears.
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