A Haitian man who suffered cholera-like symptoms and died in his Caribbean homeland after the U.S. deported him had no pre-existing health problems that might have contributed to his death, medical records from his time in immigration custody show.
Wildrick Guerrier, 34, was sent back to Haiti on Jan. 20. He became severely ill while being held at a police station as is customary for deportees to Haiti. He died Jan. 29 and was buried in Haiti without an autopsy. Other deportees reported that Guerrier began suffering from diarrhea and vomiting after he tried to help other sick detainees.
After his death, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials ordered a review of his medical care while in U.S. immigration custody.
"This medical records review failed to reveal any underlying abnormalities that may have contributed to his sudden death upon deportation to Haiti," the review states.
The attorney representing Guerrier's fiancee said Tuesday that ICE's conclusion makes his death all the more shocking.
"If Mr. Guerrier was healthy when he was deported, this is definitive proof of the extreme nature of the danger faced by deportees sent back to Haiti. The United States must not deport people back to Haiti when we know that they will be detained in unsanitary conditions that spread cholera and other life-threatening diseases," said Rebecca Sharpless, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Miami School of Law.
The Associated Press obtained the medical review and other records from Guerrier's 109 days in immigration custody through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Guerrier was among the first Haitians deported by the U.S. since a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti's capital in January 2010.
ICE has said it expects to deport this year 700 Haitians convicted of crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, embezzlement, money laundering and extortion. Thus far, 228 Haitians with criminal convictions have been deported, in coordination with Haiti's government and consistent with U.S. policies, ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said Tuesday.
According to Homeland Security records, Guerrier was taken into ICE custody Oct. 4 after serving a sentence for a 2009 conviction for a charge of possessing a firearm by a convicted felon.
ICE Health Service Corps officials reviewed Guerrier's medical records from detention facilities in Florida and Louisiana.
Guerrier's physical and mental health remained normal throughout his detention, according to the records. A Jan. 20 medical summary showed Guerrier did not suffer from any current medical problems nor required special care while in transit.
The ICE review noted that in the week before his deportation, Guerrier joined 22 Haitian detainees who refused to eat meals served at the Louisiana detention center for six days. The detainees discontinued their protest Jan. 17 and a physician assistant who evaluated Guerrier reported he showed no signs of distress though he refused to have his vital signs monitored.
Immigration rights advocates, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and prominent Roman Catholic bishops have argued that conditions in Haiti, where a cholera outbreak has killed more than 6,200 since October, make it inhumane and unsafe to deport people there.