Donate to support this work zilibutton

Be a good neighbor to Caribbean
Senseless, deadly U.S. policy on Haitians persists, Miami Herald editorial, December 28, 2008

Miami Gardens urges TPS for Haitians, December 26, 2008


HLLN Urgent Action Alert: Help the people of Gonaives, Haiti directly - Also, ask for TPS for Haitians nationals

Ike a chance to show our compassion

Obama Statement on the Need for Humanitarian Assistance to Haiti Following Devastating Storms, Sept. 8, 2008

Diaz-Balarts and Ros-Lehtinen Ask President Bush for TPS for Haitians in the US in the Wake of Deadly Storms, Sept. 7, 2008


Haitian family recalls `darkest night'
Hurricane Ike kills dozens in Haiti


Deportations to storm-crippled Haiti resume, Dec. 9, 2008, Associated Press


U.S. Resumes Deportation flights to Haiti, Dec. 9, 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Recommended links for HLLN's Campaign Two: Equal Treatment for Haitian refugees, stop deportations, grant TPS, justice for the ill treated Haitian asylum seekers Haitians deserve equal treatment

TPS for Haitians and Dominicans, July, 2004

Editorials urging the President to Grant TPS to Haitians


Hastings Again Urges President Bush to Assist Haiti's Recovery Efforts by Granting Haitian Nationals TPS


Dessalines Is Rising!!
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!




U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings Leads Congressional Black Caucus in Urging President to Take Decisive Action on Haiti
Congressional Black Caucus Letter Urging
President to Grant TPS


Family concerned as U.S. government threatens deporting member to Haiti



Remittances are too low ... Bottom Line: Grant TPS to Haitians, a neighbor
, Sun-Sentinel editorial, Sept. 6, 2008


Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/MCT
Floodwaters from Hurricane Ike claimed 12 young victims in Cabaret, Haiti, Sept. 7, 2008.



Need for Humanitarian Assistance to Haiti Following Devastating Storms

Statement from Senator Obama:

CHICAGO, IL – Senator Barack Obama issued the following statement on the need for humanitarian assistance to Haiti following devastating storms:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the hundreds of thousands of Haitians struggling to survive the floods and devastation caused by the hurricanes and tropical storms of the past six weeks, and I extend my deepest sympathies to those affected by the loss of more than 500 lives.

“Time is of the essence in helping Haiti cope with this humanitarian crisis and begin to recover. Tens of thousands of Haitians have been displaced and left without shelter, Haiti ’s already struggling agricultural sector has been devastated – and hurricane season is not yet over.

“The Haitian-American community is doing its part by supporting family and friends in Haiti in their time of need. Now the United States government and the international community must intensify relief efforts to bring food, water and shelter to the storm victims.

“I welcome the dispatch of $100,000 in emergency assistance by USAID and the promise of 50 tons of relief supplies, as well as the deployment of U.S. Coast Guard personnel and material and the pending arrival of the USS Kearsage to help alleviate the immediate crisis in Gonaives. But there’s more we can do.

“The ships, helicopters and air cargo capacity of the U.S. Southern Command should be directed to provide Haiti the logistical support our Armed Forces so ably provide around the world in times of humanitarian crisis.

“I also urge the United States to work in partnership with President Rene Preval and the new Haitian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis, and with key international actors (the United Nations Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Organization of American States, and crucial bilateral donors) to immediately assemble a task force on reconstruction and recovery to begin work as soon as the storms pass.

“Together, we can help Haiti recover from this terrible series of storms and renew efforts to bring hope and opportunity to the people of Haiti.”

Source: barackobama.com


Family concerned as U.S. government threatens deporting member to Haiti By JOHN LANTIGUA, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer, January 04, 2009

Nikenson Pierrelouis of West Palm Beach served twice in Iraq as a U.S. Marine between 2003 and 2006 and his family worried about him all the time.

Now that Pierrelouis is back home and safe, his mother and other Palm Beach County Haitian relatives are having to worry about his older half-brother, Louiness Petit-Frere.

Petit-Frere is in danger, the family says, not because he is in the military, but because U.S. immigration authorities are threatening to deport him back to Haiti.
"There is nobody in our family left in Haiti," says the mother of the two men, Francina Pierre of West Palm Beach, who has lived in Palm Beach County for 18 years. "His father and his grandparents are dead.

The rest of us are here — brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles — and we are all here legally, either citizens or legal residents.

"If they send him back to Haiti, he will have nobody, nowhere to go, and the streets there are very dangerous," Pierre said. "Or the criminals could realize that all his family is in the U.S. They could kidnap him and then ask us for more money than we have to get him back. Then they might kill him."

According to family members Petit-Frere, 31, came to the U.S. and Palm Beach County about 10 years ago. In December 2006 he married his wife, Sherly, and in August this year they went to a Customs and Immigration Service office so that he could apply for U.S. residency.

Sherly is a U.S. citizen.

"They were interviewed and were told that their application had been approved," said Guirlene Desir of Boynton Beach, Sherly's sister.

"Then they told Sherly to step outside because they wanted to talk to Louiness," Desir said. "A while later they brought out his belt, cell phone and wallet and told her he had to stay there."

Petit-Frere has no criminal history. He is being held in Glades County, awaiting deportation.

"Louiness is being deported even though he reported for an interview and tried to do things the right way," says his brother Nikenson, who suffered a non-combat injury in Iraq and left the Marines last month with the rank of sergeant after six years service.

"This shouldn't have happened."

But Nicole Navas, spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Petit-Frere was ordered deported by an immigration judge on May 16, 2000, after his application for asylum was denied. He appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals and was turned down again on June 4, 2001.

She said Petit-Frere had been a fugitive ever since, until the day he showed up at the CIS interview with his wife.

"Marriage to a U.S. citizen, by itself, does not stop the removal proceedings." Navas said in an email.

Haitian community leaders in South Florida and immigration advocates say conditions in Haiti are so dire that deporting individuals there constitutes a threat to their lives.

Already the poorest nation in the hemisphere, Haiti was hit by four hurricanes and tropical storms in August and September and has suffered devastation. The Bush administration suspended deportations to Haiti for a time due to the catastrophic conditions there, but eventually resumed them.

Meanwhile, kidnappings for ransom have become epidemic in Haiti in recent years. Victims have included not only the wealthy, but members of lower classes as well.

Cheryl Little, executive director of Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami, which represents many Haitians -including Petit-Frere-denounced the decision to resume deportations to Haiti.

"How can this nation in good conscience send children and families to face the terrible conditions that exist in Haiti?," she said.

"Where will they live? How will they eat? People could die because of this decision."

Francina Pierre, who works at the Publix in Palm Beach, said she thought her children were safe once her one son came home from Iraq.

"The one comes home alright, and now this," Pierre said. "This is very, very hard on a mother."


Diaz-Balarts and Ros-Lehtinen Ask President Bush for TPS for Haitians in the US in the Wake of Deadly Storms

Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart
21st District of Florida
Washington DC

Contact: Miami Contact:
Andy Gonzalez - (202) 225-4211 Yanik Fenton - (786) 845-0714
2244 Rayburn House Office Building 8525 NW 53 Ter, Suite 102
Washington, DC 20515 Miami, FL 33166

September 7, 2008


Diaz-Balarts and Ros-Lehtinen Ask President Bush for TPS for Haitians in the US in the Wake of Deadly StormsMiami, FL - Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), along with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), today asked President Bush to promptly grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals living in the United States in the wake of the destruction caused by the string of storms that have hit Haiti this hurricane season. TPS is meant to provide nationals from a country who are present in the United States with work permits and safe haven until it is determined that it is safe for them to return to their country.

Following please find the letter sent by the Congressmen to President Bush today:

“Dear Mr. President:

We respectfully request that you promptly grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals in the United States in the aftermath of four deadly storms, hurricanes Ike and Gustav and tropical storms Hannah and Fay.

Haiti was in the midst of recovering from the damage of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Fay, which caused flooding and mudslides and took numerous lives, when Tropical Storm Hannah came ashore earlier this week and caused widespread devastation on the island country. According to press reports over 130 Haitians died in the deluge that inundated the country, over half the homes in Gonaives, one of Haiti’s largest cities, were flooded and vital infrastructure such as bridges were destroyed. This same city is still recovering from Tropical Storm Jeanne, which hit the area in 2004 and killed over 3,000. As of Friday it was reported that over 54,000 Haitians were living in emergency shelters and many were going without food and water.

As you know the Government of Haiti does not possess the necessary resources to provide basic services let alone adequately provide for its citizens after this string of natural disasters hit the country. The situation may become even worse as the torrential winds and rains from Hurricane Ike continue to drench the already flooded country and cause further damage and loss of life in Haiti.

Congress established TPS as safe haven for those foreign nationals who cannot safely return to their home country due to ongoing armed conflict or because of an environmental disaster.

Clearly the destruction caused by these four storms in Haiti is one that does not allow the safe return of Haitian nationals to their country and as such we strongly believe the Administration should provide TPS to the Haitian nationals currently in the United States.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.


Lincoln Diaz-Balart Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Mario Diaz-Balart”


Andy Gonzalez
Press Secretary
Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Fl-21)
(202) 225-4211



Be a good neighbor to Caribbean

Sept. 10, 2008, Editorial, Miami Herald

The 2008 hurricane season has not been kind to Caribbean nations. Haiti is in sodden tatters. Cuba has taken the brunt of what Ike delivered, and that after Hurricane Gustav slammed the island. The Dominican Republic may be better off than its neighbor, Haiti, but only because it was better off economically and ecologically before this year's storms began pouncing. Jamaica, Turks and Caicos and parts of the Bahamas also have been pounded by storms, none meaner than Ike. And there are 2 1⁄2 more months before the season ends.

Having been blessed so far with no hurricanes, South Florida residents have reason to show their gratitude and their humanity by reaching out to our island neighbors. This is all the more natural because so many residents in this community have family and friends back ''home.'' For most wanting to help, barriers will be minimal. (See the How to Help Hurricane Victims list in this section.)

Not so for Cuban Americans, whose natural instincts to reach out to fellow Cubans are stymied by tightened restrictions for visiting and sending remittances to the island.

The restrictions, adopted by the Bush administration in 2004, placed new, stricter limits on the amount of money and other aid Cuban Americans could send back to the islands. It also restricted family visits to the island to once every three years.

Many Cuban Americans who oppose the 2004 rules are calling on the president to suspend them in order to expedite relief and recovery supplies to Cuba. President Bush should heed their pleas. Sending food, water, clothing, building materials and other goods to Cuban citizens will instill goodwill and strengthen the bond between Cubans and South Florida. It is, simply, the right and humane thing to do regardless of politics.

Equally necessary is for President Bush to suspend deportations to Haiti and grant Haitians here facing deportation Temporary Protected Status under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Haiti is in shambles. Flooding and other obstacles have made delivery of relief supplies extremely difficult, according to U.S. military officials. This is not the time to be repatriating Haitians.

Haiti is still crippled from Tropical Storm Noel's torrential rains, which killed 66 people and destroyed 20,000 homes in 2007, and from Tropical Storm Jeanne, which killed more than 2,500 and left 250,000 homeless in 2004.

In the past, the U.S. government has granted TPS to migrants without legal status in the aftermath of natural disasters. Salvadorans, for example, were given TPS after the 2001 earthquakes. The government has granted and extended TPS to Hondurans and Nicaraguans, too.

The U.S. government should do no less for Haitians, whose government is utterly unprepared to absorb them back into the community -- in part because there is very little community left standing at the moment. If TPS is right for Central Americans whose countries are under stress, it surely is right for Haitians, too.


Ike a chance to show our compassion

MYRIAM MARQUEZ, Miami Herald, Sept. 10, 2008

The heavenly signs pierce the soul, harsh and devastating.

You can see them in the eyes of a wounded Haitian child caked in mud, gasping for life after Ike, the Category 3 hurricane that killed more than 300 and left a million homeless. Feel them in the tremble of a sobbing father holding his dead little girl. Hear them in prayers of Miami's Little Haiti community to Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours, our Lady of Perpetual Help.

You can track the signs, too, in Hurricane Ike's path through Cuba. It roared through Nipe Bay near Santiago, where almost 400 years ago on that very day two young Indian brothers and a slave boy survived a storm and found a floating wood statue, bone dry, proclaiming ``I am the Virgin of Charity.''


As a multitude of Cuban exiles solemnly prayed the rosary Monday on the anniversary of the virgin's apparition, Ike's trajectory became a replay of historical misses and lost opportunities.

Ike kept pushing, challenging, reminding us of old battles as it ripped through central Cuba and swirled just a few miles from Playa Girón where young exiles fought in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

By Tuesday, Havana's old buildings were crumbling from Ike. The storm was blamed for the death of at least four Cubans in other towns and was expected to do more damage to an already devastated Pinar del Río province, where Gustav 10 days earlier destroyed crops and 100,000 homes.

How many more signs before we walk the compassionate conservative talk?

Haitians without U.S. immigration papers deserve temporary protected status. If not now, when? That immigration category is used during times of natural disasters and wars, giving undocumented immigrants the opportunity to remain in the United States and work, just as Salvadorans and Nicaraguans have been allowed to do.

You can't send help to your loved ones if you're in an immigration cell, unable to work for no other crime than your status as persona non grata.

South Florida's congressional delegation has consistently called for TPS for Haitians. Republicans and Democrats, alike, see the moral imperative. Republican U.S. Reps. Lincoln Diaz Balart, Mario Diaz Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen quickly called on President Bush to do right by Haiti on TPS, as have Rep. Kendrick Meek and other Democrats.

Students of history know there are pivotal moments that offer remarkable transformations. The collapse of the Berlin Wall that led to the end of the Soviet empire caught the West by surprise. Ike may be our test.

For Bush has the opportunity to rise above the expected political drill of nothing for Cuba until the Castro brothers leave. It's good to see the Treasury Department is poised to approve new licenses for nongovernmental groups to offer hurricane relief to the Cuban people, but we can do more.

No one with any sense is saying dump the Cuba embargo and kiss up to the Castros. But what's so wrong with a 90-day window for Cuban exiles to rush to their families left behind and offer help, as Democratic congressional candidate Raúl Martinez has suggested?

I suspect Fidel and Raúl won't allow it. They only care about free credit so their already debt-driven government can get U.S. goods for nothing. Let them play politics with Cubans' suffering.

We are better than that.

Even for 90 days, only for 90 days, let's get rid of the political babble, the white noise and seize the challenge of our better angels.



Haitian family recalls `darkest night'

BY JENNIFER MOONEY PIEDRA, Miami Herald, Sept. 8, 2008

(Miami Herald Audio Slideshow - Haiti's human wreckage


Photos - PATRICK FARRELL / MIAMI HERALD: A woman weeps as the lifeless bodies of twelve children that died in flooding caused by Hurricane Ike are loaded onto a truck and carried away to the morgue ).


As the wind howled and rain tore through the Haitian village of Messailler, Charles Amicy huddled on a dark staircase with his family.

Amicy and his wife tried to console the group of six children, three of them his own. As they wept, he encouraged them to pray.

As the floodwaters raged around their two-story home, they sang religious songs to help block out the screams of neighbors.

''It was the darkest night of my life,'' said Amicy, 48, a Presbyterian pastor, recalling Hurricane Ike's wrath early Sunday morning.

'People were crying, `Save me. Save me.' There was nothing I could do.''
The family, three orphans living with them and a maid, clung together for hours as water crept up the walls of their home.

They survived, but so many others in Messailler and the nearby poor oceanside town of Cabaret -- grandmothers, pregnant women, babies -- weren't spared.

Bodies of the dead were scattered on the grounds of Amicy's five-acre compound, a former sugar cane plantation turned religious retreat where local children learn, orphans feel loved and the faithful flock to church.

Amicy's 10-year-old son, Allan, saw several corpses that had been dumped by the river onto the grounds of the compound.

''This has had a big impact on his life,'' said Amicy, who lives in Port-au-Prince during the week and at the compound on weekends. ``He cries. He doesn't want to sleep alone.''

The horror began at 2 a.m. Sunday.

Amicy was awake, praying in his second-floor bedroom, when his 25-year-old nephew ran in, saying he heard a ``big noise.''

Amicy hurried downstairs and toward the front door to peek outside. As he reached for the doorknob, he felt water on his feet, coming through the cracks of the door.

Then, the door collapsed. Water came rushing.

Amicy ran toward the first-floor bedroom where his three children, three orphans and a maid were asleep.

He ordered them all upstairs.

The children -- ages 3 to 18 -- were crying.

At daylight, Amicy walked outside.

What he saw, he will never forget.

''Houses washed away. There are no more walls. Everything is flattened,'' he said.

``Everywhere you look, devastation.''

Toilets were flushed down the river, tires shred to pieces, tables floated away.
Also stolen by Ike: More than $300,000 in prescription drugs from the compound's pharmacy and five vehicles used by the ministry, including a school bus, a dump truck and a van.

After assessing the damage and handing out spaghetti to hungry storm victims, Amicy knew he had to somehow get his family back to safety in Port-au-Prince.
But phone lines were dead and cellphone service spotty.
So they started walking.

Barefoot, with only the clothes on their backs, Amicy led his family up the hills, away from the water, on a four-mile walk to a main road. There, they were picked up and driven to the city.

Even after all the devastation and heartache among Haitians, Amicy's spirit remains unfaltering.

''We will rebuild,'' he said. ``I don't know how, but I know that God will help us.''© 2008 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.


Hurricane Ike kills dozens in Haiti

BY JACQUELINE CHARLES, Miami Herald, Sept. 8, 2008

(Photo- Frantz Samedi had searched for his 5-year-old for two hours, trudging through heaps of storm debris and muddy water, calling her name, ``Tamasha, Tamasha!'')

When he finally found her, she seemed to be peacefully asleep, her body resting on the wet, mud-laden concrete slab next to 11 other children, ages 1 to 8. The graying man pressed his way through the crowd of survivors, carrying a pot of water. He knelt beside the lifeless body, gently washing the mud off his little girl with a sponge. ''I can't leave her in this condition,'' Samedi said, sobbing. ''I should have died in her place.'' Tamasha and the other children were torn from their families when Ike swept through this poor oceanside town early Sunday. The tragedy here was but a microscopic glimpse of widespread devastation across the country.

Haiti awoke to a trail of human wreckage Sunday morning, much of it strewn through this town just north of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, where shortly after 2 a.m., Hurricane Ike's pounding deluge drove residents out of their homes and into the blinding sheets of rain. Two raging rivers overflowed their banks, swallowing up houses as the roiling waters broke doors down and poured through windows.

Ike killed at least 61 people in Haiti -- 57 of them in Cabaret -- government officials said. More than a dozen of them were children, swept away by the rains and rivers as their parents tried to run for cover in the middle of the heavy downpour.

The total death toll from back-to-back storms increased to more than 300, officials said Sunday. About one million people were left homeless by the four consecutive storms that brushed past this environmentally fragile and deeply impoverished country of 8.5 million people.

President René Préval told The Miami Herald on Sunday that his government ''has made a huge effort'' to provide assistance. He said that plans were under way to send money to all 142 municipalities in the country, but that ''Haiti needs a flood of helicopters, at least 25 with pilots,'' to help the country get food to storm victims.

''This is Katrina in the entire country but without the means that Louisiana had,'' Préval said.

Both the United States and Venezuela announced Sunday that relief was on the way.

The USS Kearsarge was expected to arrive early Monday in Port-au-Prince with eight helicopters and three landing craft to carry relief supplies from the capital to affected areas in the north and south, said U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mari Tolliver.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing $7.1 million to relieve immediate suffering and to support longer-term rehabilitation and recovery. Staff members from USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were dispatched to assist in relief efforts.

Venezuela, meanwhile, said it was sending 20 tons of food and relief supplies. President Hugo Chávez said Sunday that a plane loaded with food and bottled water would fly to the port city of Gonaives, along with aid workers and medicine.

What Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna didn't fully demolish, Ike finished off -- destroying scores of additional homes and desperately needed plantations, leaving entire communities submerged by flash floods.

And the largest outlying cities in this mountainous nation -- Gonaives and Cap-Haitien in the north, Les Cayes and Jeremie in the south -- were completely cut off from the capital, and from one another.

In the Central Plateau town of Mirebalais, the storm forced the collapse of a bridge that had served as the last route from Port-au-Prince into a starving Gonaives, where for the second time in a week, tens of thousands of residents took to rooftops to escape rising hurricane flood waters. Bridges leading into the city from Mount Rouis and Cap-Haitien had already collapsed in days prior, while main roads were submerged in huge lakes.

''The situation is very critical,'' Joanas Gué, Haiti's new agriculture minister, said in a telephone interview from Mirebalais.

Although most of Gonaives' 300,000 residents had evacuated to nearby cities by Sunday, 100,000 opted to stay.

They were not the only ones who did not evacuate as word of the impending hurricane spread. In Cabaret, a town of about 60,000, residents said they did not leave because they had no way out and never imagined that Ike would cause such havoc.

''They tell us to leave, but we don't have anywhere to go,'' said farmer Raymond Lafontant, 50, standing next to the Betel River, which hours earlier devoured his three-room concrete home when it came more than 200 yards inland.

` As the grim reality became apparent, mothers wailed, fathers screamed in agony, and local officials blamed the national government for not doing enough. But government officials and others said local leaders had not done their part in persuading people to leave. Nor had they done enough to prevent people from building homes on fragile river banks.

The blame did little, however, to soften the devastating blow that shook an entire community. Parents wandered aimlessly in the streets, hollering as they searched for missing children. Bodies appeared on almost every other corner.

One river swept children downstream and another took elderly ladies, residents said.

''With the other storms, we lost houses, we lost animals and we lost plantations. Never bodies,'' said Lisemene Ferry Raphael, 46, standing near the body of her 12-year-old goddaughter, Lynda Silencieux. The girl, Raphael said, was running with her mother and 7-year-old sister when she fell behind and the waters swept her up.

Around the corner, sisters Jemima and Nadia Jean-Lubin lay dead in a street in front of a store, alongside the body of an unknown man.

No region or community seems to have been spared some devastation.

But the most dramatic scene so far was in Cabaret, where visitors had to wade through waist-high water along Route National No. 1, a main highway, to reach survivors. The water, gushing from the mountains, ran out into the sea.

Once named Duvalierville, the town was envisionsed as the city of the future by former dictator Francois ''Papa Doc'' Duvalier. But instead of modern houses to match the 1970s-era government buildings, shanties and ill-constructed homes were built close to the river bed.

Samedi, Tamasha's father, said the rains came with a vengeance at 2:20 a.m. and water barreled through the door.

A 60-year-old cousin yanked Tamasha from her bed and tried to run to higher ground. But he fell, losing hold of the girl as the fierce water pulled her away.

''If she had been with me, she would not have died,'' Samedi wailed again and again. ``I'm the one whom she calls Papa. I'm the one who is responsible for her. If she were with me, she would not have died.''


Remittances are too low

South Florida Sun Sentinel, Sept. 6, 2008

It's easy to forget, when lamenting about high gas prices and the mortgage crisis, that the U.S. economy does not only affect the residents of this country. In South Florida, where immigrants are the financial lifeline for relatives in their home countries, the economic strain also reverberates in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Statistics unfortunately now show that remittances to Mexico, for example, have dropped so low that businesses and construction projects are in jeopardy. The payments have decreased by about 2 percent this year to $11.6 billion, The Associated Press reported. Experts put the blame on the sluggish U.S. economy.

This also raises concerns about Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. With the country now struggling with a food shortage and natural disaster due to recent hurricanes, the citizens of Haiti and other struggling nations need assistance more than ever.

But with the U.S. economy as fragile as it is, many U.S. government and aid agencies are going to be strapped for funds and donations. The increased need, if matched by lowered assistance, will only increase the pressure to seek refuge away from Haiti, and other nations.

That would be a humanitarian crisis Florida, and the United States, can ill afford during this time of economic anxiety.

U.S. officials should proactively help prevent such a scenario by granting Haitians already in the United States temporary protective status. Granting them TPS, as has been done for foreigners from other countries impacted by natural disasters, would allow those relatively few qualified U.S. Haitians to help their loved ones back home.

For that matter, the United States should also lift the counterproductive limits on remittances by Cuban-Americans to family members in Cuba. The need is there, and there is no justification for penalizing Cubans for the misdeeds of the Castro government.

It's unrealistic to expect U.S. aid groups to carry the entire burden of assisting all in need. Or, worse, for the United States to risk instability in its back yard.

BOTTOM LINE: Grant TPS to Haitians.


U.S. resumes deportation flights to Haiti
By Luis F. Perez |South Florida Sun-Sentinel
December 9, 2008

Deportation flights to Haiti resumed last week after a more than two-month halt, enraging activists and South Florida congressional leaders.

In September, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stopped deporting immigrants to Haiti in the wake of four tropical storms that ravaged the country. Advocates argued that the battered country couldn't absorb returning countrymen as it dealt with storm damage.

"We fully expected to resume deportation flights when it was safe," said Nicole Navas, an ICE spokeswoman. "And we made a determination that it was appropriate to resume deportation based on the conditions on the ground."

Advocates say things are getting worse, not better. Schools are collapsing. Children are malnourished. The country's infrastructure is obliterated, they said

"After dealing with this administration on Haitian issues for eight years, I'm forced to conclude that its policy toward Haiti is based on racism," said Randy McGrorty, director of Catholic Charities Legal Services for the Archdiocese of Miami.

"It shocking. People are starving in Haiti. This callous disregard for human life is inexplicable."

In a joint prepared statement, U.S. Representatives Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, called the decision to start deportation again "short-sighted and inhumane."

"Many deported Haitians simply have no communities to return to," they said. "It is disappointing that the Bush Administration would even consider sending people back to this incredibly fragile nation."

McGrorty said advocates plan to meet Wednesday to talk about how they may again stop the deportations.

Luis F. Perez can be reached at lfperez@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4553.
Copyright © 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Deportations to storm-crippled Haiti resume

By KELLI KENNEDY – December 9, 2008

MIAMI (AP) — Deportations to Haiti have resumed after being suspended for nearly three months following a wave of deadly storms that racked the country, federal immigration officials said Monday.

Immigration officials temporarily stopped returning residents to Haiti in September after hundreds were killed in four storms.

"The individuals being returned have final orders of removal and the necessary travel documents," ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "We have contacted interested members of Congress to apprise them of the reinstituted removals."

Navas didn't provide further details on the timing of the flights or discuss numbers of deportees.

"This decision only complicates the Haitian government's ongoing recovery effort," U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Florida Democrat, said in an e-mail. "The Bush administration has less than six weeks to do the right thing and grant Haitians temporary protected status."

Leaders of the Haitian commmunity in Florida and human rights advocates argue that conditions have been slow to improve since at least 425 people were killed and thousands left homeless by severe flooding after the storms.

Late last month, the mayor of Port-au-Prince estimated that 60 percent of the city's buildings were unsafe, built shoddily and now standing on ground weakened by a torrential hurricane season. A school collapse last month killed nearly 100 people.

Even before the storms, skyrocketing food prices had sparked violent protests.
"Deportations at this time are simply inhumane, sending people to conditions of famine and disease. The change in policy is unwarranted by reports on the ground which confirm that the humanitarian crisis in Haiti continues and worsens," said Randy McGrorty, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities Legal Services in Miami.

Some South Florida congressional members, who represent the largest Haitian community in the U.S., have said they were disappointed that Haitians have not been granted temporary protected status.

The status allows immigrants from countries experiencing armed conflict or environmental disasters to stay and work in the U.S. for a limited time. It has been granted to a handful of African and Central American countries.

Associated Press Writer Jennifer Kay contributed to this report.


Senseless, deadly U.S. policy on Haitians persists
By MYRIAM MARQUEZ |mmarquez@MiamiHerald.com, Dec. 28, 2008

Two years ago, Louiness and Sheryl Petit-Frere were newlyweds celebrating their good fortune. Both from Haiti, they had found love and one another in Miami.

Today, Louiness, a 31-year-old baker, waits at the Glades detention facility in Central Florida to be sent to a country he hasn't seen in a decade, where no one waits for him.
His 27-year-old bride in Miami tries to make sense of a senseless immigration law that would deport an otherwise law-abiding, working man because he had an old asylum petition denied.

Never mind that he is married to a U.S. citizen, that he had, in good faith, filed for legal status and had shown up for the interview at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office when he was hauled away like a common criminal.

Petit-Frere's mother and five siblings are all permanent U.S. residents, including his brother, Sgt. Nikenson Peirreloui, a U.S. Marine with a war injury to show for his two tours in Iraq. But none of that matters.

The U.S. government deems it imperative to deport Petit-Frere, who has no criminal record, to a place decimated by four back-to-back storms this summer, with thousands of starving, dehydrating children left homeless and adults facing no prospects for jobs.
''It seems terrible,'' his mother, Francina Pierre, told me Saturday while she waited for her daughter-in-law to get off work as a grocery store clerk.

''He has nobody left in Haiti,'' she said. ``My mom died, my dad died, my sister died. And my two brothers live here. One is a U.S. citizen and the other is a permanent resident. We have no more family living in Haiti, no more.''

The Bush administration had sensibly put deportations to Haiti on hold after a succession of hurricanes and tropical storms destroyed parts of the island, leaving thousands without work or home. But the president stopped short of granting temporary protected status, or TPS, to Haitians living in the United States without proper documentation.

Natural disasters generally qualify for TPS consideration -- as Central Americans with TPS can attest. But Haitians can never seem to catch a break.

U.S. immigration officials decided recently that it would be just dandy to deport Haitians while recovery efforts on their part of Hispaniola proceed in spurts and stops, as children die of malnutrition and mudslides continue to impede reconstruction.

''How can this nation in good conscience send children and families to face the terrible conditions that exist in Haiti?'' Cheryl Little, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center's executive director, said in a statement. ``People could die because of this decision.''
She's not crying wolf.

The conditions in Haiti, as superbly detailed by Miami Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles the past few months, cry out for solutions -- not asinine deportations that only exacerbate an already untenable situation.

As President Bush looks through his list of pardons to wipe the slate clean for criminals, he should move to do more for the common man, people like Louiness Petit-Frere. Why not grant TPS for Haitians who have no criminal record, so they can stay and work here until conditions improve in their country?

Those who do have family in Haiti can send money and goods back to help the reconstruction and rev up the economy.

TPS was designated for catastrophic situations like Haiti's. There's no reason to deny Haitians TPS. Only racist excuses.


Miami Gardens urges TPS for Haitians, Dec. 26, 2008

MIAMI GARDENS — The city of Miami Gardens has passed a resolution seeking to encourage the Bush administration to provide Temporary Protected Status to Haitian immigrants in the United States.

The Miami Gardens City Council unanimously accepted the measure proposed by Councilman Andre Williams during its Dec. 10 meeting.

“It defies logic that the U.S. government has not provided TPS to Haitian nationals residing in the U.S. in the same way that they have provided that status to other foreigners,” Williams said.

TPS may be granted when any of the following conditions are met: There is ongoing armed conflict posing a serious threat to personal safety; it is requested by a foreign state that temporarily cannot handle the return of nationals due to environmental disaster; or when extraordinary and temporary conditions in a foreign state exist which prevent aliens from returning.

U.S. Congressmen Kendrick Meek and Alcee Hastings pointed out in a February 2008 letter to President Bush “that Haiti meets all of the requirements for TPS and is just as deserving as the other currently protected nations, if not more so.”

Williams received the help of Andre Pierre, a local Haitian-American immigration attorney, in crafting the Miami Gardens legislation. In addition to practicing immigration law, Pierre also teaches the subject at Barry University.

The Miami Gardens’ legislation joins a list of seemingly ignored pleas from Haitian-American activists and American politicians who have urged the Bush administration to afford the devastated country the same status that was afforded immigrants from Nicaragua and Honduras after Hurricane Mitch in 1998; and El Salvador immigrants after it suffered the effects of two earthquakes within one month in 2001.

While the legislation may be viewed as largely symbolic, Pierre is hopeful that the “lame duck” President Bush will consider granting TPS to Haitians before he leaves office in a few weeks, perhaps in a last-ditch effort to improve his tattered image.

In a May 2008 editorial for the South Florida Times, local Haitian activist Marleine Bastien drew attention to the United States’ ironic warning against travel to Haiti prior to this year’s devastating hurricane season.

Bastien implored the Bush administration to grant TPS, as doing so “would allow about 20,000 Haitian immigrants to continue sending support money to about ten times that many people in Haiti.”

It is estimated that Haitians living in the U.S. send approximately $1.8 billion back to Haiti annually.

Williams said the issue is of particular importance to him because of the number of Haitians residing in the city of Miami Gardens.

“We have about 3,400 registered Haitian-American voters and the actual number of Haitian American residents is closer to 5,000 or so,” he said.

\In a rare acknowledgment of the danger facing Haitians repatriated to their country, the Department of

Homeland Security temporarily halted deportations to Haiti following the back-to-back storms this summer.

“The U.S. did cease deportations to Haiti because of the storms that have ravaged the country this past summer, but in the last few weeks they have begun those deportations again,” Williams said.

Pierre said he has several clients who may face deportation, none of whom would agree to be interviewed for this story.

“I have one client that was taken into custody. I have not been able to get in contact with him. I’m assuming he’s probably back in Haiti,” he said.




South Floridians to Rally at Federal Courthouse to Call on President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft to enact Temporary Protected Status for Haitians and Dominicans

For more information please contact: Anna Fink (Unite for Dignity), 305-788-5425, or Kathy Bird (Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center), 305-573-1106 x1210,

When: Thursday July 8th at 4:45 pm

Where: Federal Courthouse, located on NE 1st AV between 3rd and 4th ST, across from Miami-Dade Wolfson Campus in Downtown Miami.

Who: Members of the Haitian and Dominican communities, community leaders and others. Sponsoring organizations include: American Friends Service Committee, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Haitian American Youth of Tomorrow, Haitian Women of Miami, Haitian American Grassroots Coalition, Latinos United in Action, New American Freedom Summer, South Florida Jobs with Justice, and Unite for Dignity among others.

Why: Thousands of people have died and lost their homes in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as a result of recent flooding across both of these countries. Haitiķs continued political instability makes it additionally ill prepared to deal with the current disaster. On June 16 Governor Jeb Bush stated that he is ģinclinedī to support the granting of TPS (Temporary Protected Status) to Haitians. On June 18 a coalition of 23 Florida organizations sent Governor Bush a letter asking him to follow through on his words and call on his brother to grant TPS. These organizations are prepared to take action again if we do not have an answer by August 5, 2004.

If there was ever a time for the federal government to grant this status it is now. TPS has been granted in the past to nationals of Sudan, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Burundi, Bosnia-Herzegovina, El Salvador and Guatemala due to political unrest in those countries. TPS was granted to Hondurans and Nicaraguans after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and to Salvadorans after an earthquake in 2001.


Ezilidanto | Writings | Performances | Bio | Workshops | Contact Us | Guests | Law | Merchandise
© 2003 Marguerite Laurent