strategies for a developing world…

Will Obama grant TPS to Haitian Immigrants?

Barack Obama at Town Hall Meeting in California The word on the street is that President Barack Obama is seriously weighing whether or not to reverse the Bush Administration’s decision to not grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian immigrants living semi-openly in the US.  As we reported here last January, outgoing DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff communicated the Administration’s decision to President René Préval of Haiti without providing much detail on its raison d’être. But thanks to a poorly written dispatch from the Associated Press which triggered a vocal outcry primarily from Haitians in South Florida, an issue that might have continued to remain buried in the least important to-do piles of the new President was kicked upstairs. Patrick Gaspard, the White House Director for Political Affairs, recently made a quick trip to Miami to confer with advocates for the Haitians and communicate the Administration’s concerns. How did we get there and will Obama do right by the Haitians? Let’s recapitulate.

Shortly after Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, several groups that have long advocated on behalf of Haitian refugees and immigrants began calling for a halt to deportations to Haiti. These groups – Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Catholic Charities, UNITE for Dignity, the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, Notre Dame D’Haiti Mission and Grace Haitian United Methodic Church – set up an online petition to broaden support. The petition, which has so far gathered 755 signatures, can be accessed here.

On February 16, AP reported that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had ordered the deportation of 30,000 Haitians. As its name indicates ICE is charged with enforcing immigration decisions: it does not make them. Thus the story was wrong. Although AP retracted the story in part a couple of days later, the original report had already spread panic in Haitian communities nationwide.  Thus thousands were led to believe that ICE was singling out Haitians for stepped up deportation efforts.

That 30,000 Haitian immigrants might be subject to deportation was not hard to believe. Over the last twenty years, many have been denied legal permanent residence or refugee status and given the opportunity to self-deport. Most decided to chance staying in the US rather than take the next flight back to Haiti. And most have set roots in this country, just like the millions from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and Latin America, hoping that Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) will become a reality with Obama in power. Meanwhile Haiti has been best by a long series of man-made political and natural disasters which has greatly impoverished the country and made economic progress a difficult undertaking.

In response to the news, advocates launched a broader effort to secure a halt to deportations of Haitians and secure TPS for the 30,000 or so who would be eligible. And that’s a good thing. It has to be aggressive enough however to overpower the fear mongering of the naysayers in the Obama administration. Their typical excuse: granting TPS to Haitians will trigger a massive exodus from Haiti. This is simply crap for several reasons, the most obvious one being that with near-zero forest cover there is no way that enough boats can be built to support a “massive” exodus. Secondly, US coast guard cutters has been patrolling the waters just outside of Haiti for quite a long time and have been quick to identify boatloads of Haitian immigrants and return them promptly to Port-au-Prince. Thirdly, when President Clinton granted Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) to Haitian immigrants in the US, DED being a modified form of TPS, there was no mass exodus from Haiti. In fact there has been no mass exodus from Haiti in the last 15 years!

Most of the major US Newspapers have argued that Haitians should be granted TPS. They include the NY Times, the NY Daily News, the Washington Post among others. National groups, such as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the NAACP, the National Immigration Forum and several state-wide immigration coalitions have affirmed or reaffirmed support for the temporary measure. Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL) has sponsored a bill that has so far gathered the support of about 40 of his colleagues.

Yet this may not be enough to move President Obama to do right by Haitians. While he has renewed his commitment to seeing CIR become a reality sooner rather than later following a meeting with the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus, he has also indicated his intention to proceed cautiously and preference for not doing things piecemeal.

TPS for Haitians is not a given under the Obama Administration. Haitian advocates have weak advocacy presence in Washington, even though they may have sympathetic ears. Sustained and visible advocacy in Washington is now called for both to pressure the Administration and ensure that major civil rights and immigrants rights groups insist on TPS for Haitians as a down payment on the broader immigration reform agenda that should be in play later this year.

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Categorised in: immigration, us politics

19 Responses »

  1. believe that President Obama is doing the best that he can, but at the same time more could be done for the Haitians who are without proper documents. We all know they are here working, without proper documents why not give them (TPS) Temporary Proctected Status
    if they’re working and paying taxes already? why not ask them to step forward to address the issues with them? The American Government is aware of the situation in Haiti this is not new news
    to us, we should have already addressed this matter before 2009. Yes we are upset with the way the Haitians are being treated!! we open the water ways to every one else but not to Haitian people. Are we not the children of the same god above? we deserve a chance just like
    everyone!! all we are asking is to look in the matter for us ! And to please extend a helping hand to the Haitian people and to start a dialog with the Haitian Government maybe we could be of assistance to President Rene Preval and the people of Haiti. We are tired of being called the boat people we are not boat people we are, God’s children! Thank you! to all who has reach out to the Haitian people we know that god has a plan for us! A Proud Haitian American.

    • We truly appreciate your commenting on this article. However an update is in order since it was published some years ago. President Obama did eventually grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to non-immigrant Haitians living in the US after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. This was one of many measures adopted by the United States in response to the earthquake. TPS was broadened to other Haitians living in the US and all TPS beneficiaries were given the opportunity to renew their status for another lengthy time period.

  2. I’m not going to ask president Obama to change something when he can’t do anything to change it…. If he can , it,s hope to him…. I am a immigrant too…. I left Haiti because I had problems…. My dad thought I was going to be crazy because I was thinking to much about a relationship that broke….. I loved this man so much but he left me so I started to lose my intellectual capacity … I didn’t have any other choice , I decided to come and stay here so I would feel a little bit okay…. But after like 3 months. I felt like I need to go to school , I try to go to irvintong high school but they said they can’t accept me because I’m not a resident… But right after the earthquake, they called me and told me I can come to school… I was so happy but after like 4 months I had to leave the school because they wanted me to stay in 10 grades for mo reason … In this last September I went to Newark technical and vocational school to take a GED class … Now I’m waiting for a latter that a school is going yo send me so I can take the GED test… but after that I would like to go to school …. But I will be able to because I’m not working , no school is going to accept me…. I mean if president Obama can do something for us it real be great…. But if he can’t , I know god can …. That’s all I had to say…

  3. i think barack obama should grant (TPS) to the Haitian.we should all be treated the same,all equal,just because we landed different places that don’t mean we better than other. we are all god child no one is better. some have different life but is the same. i am haitian and am proud to be, i couldn’t think myself as a better person than to be haitian. don’t judge haitian without knowing them fist. we are all the same. sincerely lady S

  4. hell naw thats more problems for us americans, keep them hatians in hati and help them out there, enough said.

  5. I cannot imagine another option but to grant Haitians Temporary Protected States. However, it should be pointed out that it is an factual error to blame the policy knows as “wet foot, dry foot.” This policy is based in statute: the Cuban Adjustment Act (1962).

    A lesson should be learned here- Cubans used America’s political machine to obtain this benefit- Haitains and persons sympathetic to Haiti should likewise lobby Congress for a Haitain adjustment act. That would change the basis for the policy.

    • I believe that the Haitian people have been through so much, time and time and again we watch as others set foot on this land and they are allow to stay.,but the Haitians who also known as the boat people they wave good by to, Haiti does have political problems just like those that are allow to stay here, America needs to wake up and see the way they are treating Haitians. i’am very upset to see bodies with no names their family will never what happened to them. i can go on and on. my only hope is that the Obama’s administration will grant the Haitians the same excess as the others, God bless America and may God also bless Haiti.

  6. I believe that at the right time God will open this admistrations heart to see the need of the Haitian people here in the United States, mothers with their children, students going to school, and learning.fathers working to provide for their families. they could use a little break, a little help. lend us a helping hand Mr. President Obama. Thank you for considering us, a father yourself of two daughters you want the best for them as I want a chance to stay here and take care of my three american-citizen young children who still needs their mom and dad!
    may my God in heaven bless your administration!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Why the Haitian community should be getting immigration help from the president. Mr Obama…. Because we represent freedom, hope his being talking about……..During the night of august 22, 1791 Haitian people started the hope movement.and also we……. Paid the french more than 21 Billion dollars in to day currency which we want back right now. So now we have done the hard work you don’t have to do your self, go back to history and help us. Well you may say my people from Africa. I was not a slave but if the Haitian we’re not stand up before the mighty power. I’m sure it would have continue to this day even though it’s in a novus form………like very low pay to citizen of the world. We understand that you’re not really having a mind of your own and always have the invisible mind guiding you every step of the way but stand up be a man like JFK. He new that we have to share the planet and that was commonsense from a great men not a puppet, and he shall live fore ever, be a man like the Great Martin Luther king he to shall live for ever . Now one last thing for those who think it OK to treat the Haitian people understand that in justice any were is injustice every were that goes for …..black …. white and every nation because there is natural forces in the air. The reason…….why we had paid…. the french more than 21 billion dollars the french said that we had to pay because we were interfere with the …….slave business so we had to pay for all people to be free, and we were help full to many nation to day most of them making progress while we continue to pay the freedom price. people think about it ,peace out one Love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Its more than obvious that the Bush Administartion, had a double standard when it came to repatrioting people from the Island of Haiti.  The “wet foot, dry foot” policy didn’t apply to you if you come from the island of Haiti.  We can speculalte as to what the motivation to this double is, but we will always be reminded that Haiti, is a poor country, which has a government that is as stable as a bowl of Jello.  Why is it that so?  When we take a closer assesment of the history of Haiti, we find that Haiti had an undeniable connection to the united States of America.  The plight of the Haitian poeple is very much so as a result of events some what or some how that occur on American soil.  Haiti was the first black independent country in the Western Hemisphere.  The United States is the most succesful and powerful country that used slavery as a foundation to building this great Union we call the United States.  Look at the histories of both countries and think to yourself, why would our Uncle Sam, assist the people who fought off there imperialist counterpart?  I am the child of a Haitian immigrant, and one thing I can testify to is that we Haitian are intelligent, persistent, and very defiant.  Regardless of the actions of President Obama, we will never let up.  I have faith in Obama.  I beleive that he will do the best that he can for the Haitian people.  Just think, Obama’s father was an Immigrant who went back to his home country.  If Obama stays true to the dreams of his father, he will allow my Haitian American children to remain with their families regardless if they have papers or not.  But never less I am Haitian, and I was born in the Bahamas.  I am a U.S. Army veteran, college graduate, and the father of two beautiful children.  I have never been without a job since I was 15, and I will be 34 this year.  Haitians in America, are here for a reason, and in due time Obama will realize this, trust me, and I have no doubt in my mind that he will allow the ones who are here, the opportunity to stay.

    • I do hope that President Obama sees things the way you do and change the US government’s position to not grant TPS to Haitians. However, i urge you and others similarly situated to help him along by putting in a call to the White House at (202) 456-1111 or send in an email sooner rather than later to let him know of your hopes and expectations. Otherwise he may listen to other voices who say the opposite.

      • Hey, Mr. McCalla, I think you did pretty good with Ted on NPR however, I think Haitian people should begin to change their way of thinking. The TPS policy or policies will be change a such way and that could possibly hut all Haitians without some type do-citizenship. This massive approach will create another effect into the Haitian society. It is a fact that Haitians people may facing some type exoduses to expansionism. What do you think about Mr. Anderson Cooper in CNN approach by dehumanizing the Haitian Government on a tuff situation like 7.0 on Richter Scale A” moderate P’ waves Earthquake. What is your feed back Sir.

  9. Haitians people should get treated the same way as Cubans…They call us as Boat people..But they don’t have a name for the others, Why it has to be Haitian Suffered..What have we done to get that Discrimination…I am very Proud for who i am as Haitian Woman..We are God’s Children, we all should have respect for each other not to punish a nationality. I am asking a lot of Help for the Haitian Community…Why a lot  of Black people  are having problems with their Jobs since after that precious African-American president…Are we getting punished for that?

    Sincerly,

    Rose

  10. I feel like they treat haitian people a different way…Specially when you are the only haitian in a workplace..I got fired after Obama barack Was elected President…My boss said to me she would not let her Children eat Cocoa puffs( a Chocolate color cereal) I was so sad in my heart..i couldn’t say anything but I was so depressed of what she thought about My African -American presiden,I always said that i am so happy that i have an African-American president ..Life will be much better and we all are equals, But she was not happy the way i felt in my Heart…..she Fired me for no reason…She stated that I violated the Rules…

    • Where you written up for any violations or any diciplinary actions if not you have a case. You should report her to the EEOC and obtain a copy of your job description. Find out what rules you violated.

  11. I believe that President Obama is doing  the best that he can, but at the  same time more could be done for the Haitians who are without proper documents. We all know they are here working, without proper documents why not give them (TPS) Temporary Proctected Status
    if they’re working and paying taxes already? why not ask them to step forward to address the issues with them? The American Government is aware of the situation in Haiti this is not new news
    to us, we should have  already addressed this matter before 2009. Yes we are upset with the way the Haitians are being treated!!  we open   the water ways to every one else but  not to Haitian people. Are we not the children of the same god above? we deserve a chance just like
    everyone!! all we are asking is to look in the matter for us ! And to please extend a helping hand to the Haitian people and to start a dialog with the Haitian Government maybe we could  be of assistance to President Rene Preval and the people of  Haiti. We are tired of being called the boat people we are not boat people we are, God’s children!  Thank you! to all who has reach out to the Haitian people  we know that god has a plan for us! A Proud Haitian American.

                                                                     Yours Truly
                                                  Micheline Bisson Okraska

    • IT IS EQUITABLE  TO   THE HAITIAN PEOPLE HAVE  (TPS) BECAUSE THEY HAVE MORE DIFFICULTIES THAN THE NICARAGUAN, SALVADORAN PEOPLE. WE KNOW THAT  THE HAITIAN IMMIGRANTS HAVE BEEN DISCRIMINATED  OVER THE LAST YEARS,BUT  NOW THIS IS NEW E RA THEREFORE IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO HAVE A NEW VISION FOR A REASONABLE GOVERNANCE (PROVERBS 29V2 WHEN THE RIGHTEOUS THRIVE, THE PEOPLE REJOICE; WHEN THE WICKED RULE,THE PEOPLE GROAN VERSE 7 THE  RIGHTEOUS CARE OBOUT  JUSTICE FOR THE POOR,BUT THE WICKED HAVE NO SUCH CONCERN)                                                                                                   SINCERELY

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