Jan 24, 2007
Update: Thanks to everyone who wrote to the U.S. Congress about H.R. 351, the TRUTH Act. We don’t have an update on co-sponsors, we hope to have that next week.
Coming Attractions: Haiti’s Fondation Trente Septembre, is looking for planned local activities for the International Day in Solidarity with the People of Haiti. For more information, contact Dave Welsh at 510-847-8657, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Haiti Reborn Program will have a week of activities in its annual Haiti Solidarity Week February 3-10, 2007. Haiti Reborn is also looking for people to coordinate local events, contact Tom Ricker, email@example.com, (301) 699-0042.
This Week’s Action: is from FANM Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. – Haitian Women of Miami (FANM) and the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition (HAGC), both of which follow Haitian immigration issues carefully, in support of a bill filed last week to grant Haitians in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. For more on TPS, see Haiti JusticeBlog, and three excellent reports from CBS-4 in Miami that explore the human and legal sides of TPS, on December 8, 2005, May 6, 2006 and January 19, 2006.
Support Fair Treatment for Haitians in the U.S.
The U.S. Congress has an historic opportunity to chart a new course in our relations with Haiti, one that respects Haitian sovereignty, promotes sustainable economic development, and advances the United States’ long term interest in stability in the region. On January 17, Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida and 16 cosponsors introduced the Haitian Protection Act of 2007, H.R.522.IH, which would grant Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, to an estimated 20,000 Haitians facing deportation from the United States.
TPS is granted by the Executive Branch, in order to provide relief to nationals of countries suffering natural disasters or political violence. The status suspends deportations from the U.S. of people who have overstayed their visas or entered illegally, for renewable 12-18 month periods. TPS provides important relief to the visitors, their families and their governments, at very little cost to U.S. taxpayers. Allowing the visitors to stay allows them to keep working to support themselves, and to keep sending money back to their vulnerable families. This in turn reduces pressure on scarce jobs and government services in the affected country.
Haiti is more than qualified for TPS: it is by any measure the poorest country in the Americas, and the most vulnerable to environmental disasters. Tropical Storm Jeanne, among other major recent flooding incidents, killed over 2,000 people in 2004; at least 4,000 Haitians died in political violence between February 2004 and December 2005. Nonetheless, Haitians have never received TPS. By contrast, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, all more prosperous and stable than Haiti, have received TPS following natural disasters since 1999. The presidents of all three countries have reported that TPS was critical to their recovery by keeping the remittances that immigrants send back home flowing.
TPS is a win-win-win-win proposal: it would help Haitian visitors to the United States, their family members back home (Haitians in the diaspora, primarily the U.S., send about $1 billion back home each year, dwarfing foreign aid), and the Haitian government. But it would also help the United States.� By keeping remittances flowing to support needy relatives in Haiti we would discourage illegal emigration and make it easier to protect U.S. borders. Deportation of Haitians working in the U.S., on the other hand, decreases remittances and increases the pressure in Haiti for emigration to the U.S. TPS is particularly appropriate now that Haiti has a new democratic president and legislature. Progress towards recovery is more likely now, so that the word “Temporary” in TPS would have some meaning.
The next step towards passage of H.R.522.IH is us to showing our representatives we care about TPS for Haitians. The Haitian Protection Act needs more cosponsors to get to a committee vote. Please call or write your representative now and urge her or him to cosponsor H.R.522.IH. To find contact information for your representative, visit http://www.house.gov/writerep, or call the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-2131 and ask for your representative by name. Urge your Representative to contact Audrey Nicoleau atRep. Hastings’ office, 202-225-1313 to sign up or with any questions.
Your message to your Representative does not need to be complex or eloquent. The important thing is to stand up and be counted. Merely telling the receptionist “I am urging Rep. ____ to co-sponsor H.R.522IH, the Haitian Protection Act of 2007″, and providing the contact information will help make a difference.
Steven David Forester, Esq., Senior Policy Advocate
Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami, Inc.
786 877-6999, www.fanm.org
Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition (HAGC)