Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Remittances are too low

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial

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.

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