May 9, 2007
Update: We have some modest progress to report on two Haiti bills in the U.S. House of Representatives: co-sponsors for the Haiti Debt Relief Act have jumped from 8 last week to 13, and co-sponsors for the Haitian Protection Act of 2007, have jumped from 24, when we issued our alert last month, to 36 today. There�s more work to be done, but that progress while Congress was occupied with Iraq and other pressing issues shows the potential for much more progress.
Coming Attractions: The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti is holding a New York City Fundraiser on May 24 at the Judson Memorial Church in Washington Square, hosted by Michael Ratner, Tom Driver, Bryan Stevenson, and Judy Prosper, and featuring Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and Brian Concannon. The movie �Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits� will be screened in Detroit, London and Windsor Ontario, Seattle, Olympia, Portland OR, New York and Washington over the next month.
This Week�s Action: Is from the Quixote Center�s� Haiti Reborn project, asking us to once again contact our Representatives and urge her/him to co-sponsor the Haitian Protection Act of 2007, which would grant Haitians in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status, thereby preventing deportations and allowing Haitians in the U.S. to work legally, sending their money back to support relatives in Haiti.
This alert is particularly timely, because of the tragic deaths last Friday of more than 50 Haitian refugees when their boat capsized off the Turks and Caicos Islands, and President Preval�s request to President Bush during their meeting yesterday for more fair treatment of Haitians in the U.S. Last Thursday, Congressman Alcee Hastings wrote President Bush to highlight the injustice of denial for TPS for Haitians, when TPS status was renewed for Hondurans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans, to help those countries deal with lesser environmental and political stresses than Haiti currently confronts (TPS was also extended to visitors from Somalia, Burundi and the Sudan).
Please join Haiti Reborn�s action this week, by contacting your Representative. If you can do more, Haitian Women of Miami is organizing a program of systematic phone calls to targeted legislators. To pitch in with that effort, please contact Steven Forester at 786 877 6999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for the Quixote Center�s full alert. An abridged version is below:
Take Action to support Haitian immigrants
This week we are asking you to take action in support of extending temporary protective status (TPS) to Haitian refugees. TPS would allow Haitians currently in the U.S. to stay temporarily, as a response to the natural disasters and political strife that have recently plagued the country. TPS would allow hard-working people to remain temporarily and legally in the U.S. and continue to support themselves, send money back home to their relatives and contribute to the U.S. economy.
Just last week the Department of Homeland Security extended TPS to refugees from Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. TPS means that immigrants in the United States from these countries will not face deportation.
The statement from DHS Secretary Chertoff says, �Although Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador have made significant progress in their recovery and rebuilding efforts, each country continues to face social and economic challenges in their efforts to restore their nations to normalcy,� said USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez. �This 18 month extension reflects the United States� commitment to continue assisting our Central American neighbors on their road to recovery.�
The scenarios outlined are of course equally true of Haiti: the collapse of the economy, years of civil conflict, and recent natural disasters. What is different is the willingness of this administration to �continue assisting� its Haitian neighbor.
Alcee Hasting (D-FL) responded to the announcement this way:
�Granting TPS to Haitian nationals is, now more than ever, a matter of fairness and consistency in our immigration policies. Again, I respectfully request that you grant Haitians the same consideration and protection that you have supported for other deserving nations and people. The continuation of unfair and discriminatory immigration policies toward Haitians has not allowed Haiti to obtain the sense of normalcy that its Central American counterparts are being given the opportunity to achieve.�
To show Congress you care, call the U.S. Capitol switchboard, 202-224-2131 and ask for your member of the U.S. House of Representatives by name (or if you do not know his/her name, give your zipcode). Your message does not need to be complex or eloquent. Merely telling your Representative�s receptionist �I am urging Rep. ____ to co-sponsor H.R.522IH, the Haitian Protection Act of 2007� will help make a difference. If you want to do more, ask for the staffer who deals with immigration issues, and discuss your concerns with him or her. Ask your Representative to contact Audrey Nicoleau in Rep. Hastings� office, 202-225-1313 to sign up or with any questions.
Click here for current co-sponsors.