Half-Hour for Haiti: Tell President Obama to Stop Deporting Haitians
The Petition to Free Ronald Dauphin has over 500 signatures now. Thanks to everyone who signed. We are halfway to our goal of 1000 signatures, and Ronald is still in jail. So please sign if you have not done so. Last week’s panel discussion in Boston, “Change Haiti Can Believe In” with Actor Matt Damon, Dr. Paul Farmer, State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, Amy Goodman and IJDH Director Brian Concannon Jr. will be broadcast on WBUR radio in Boston (90.9) this Sunday at 8 PM. You can also watch it anytime on the web, click here.
Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced H.R.331 , a bill “To establish the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d’Etat in the Republic of Haiti.” The bill has 10 co-sponsors already we’ll have an alert on it soon.
This week’s action: In December, the Bush Administration resumed deportations to Haiti. The deportations had been halted in October, because Haiti was reeling from the hurricanes of August and September. Unfortunately Haiti is still reeling, from the hurricanes and now from increased hunger as food that would have been ready for harvest the last few months was destroyed in the storms. But the U.S. immigration system keeps sending people back, often breaking up families here to do so. See three good recent articles from the Miami Herald: Deportations Slide under Obama’s Radar (January 28), Haitians Snubbed Again in bid for TPS (January 8), and Inhumane to Deport Haitians, Rep. Alcee Hastings (Op-Ed) ( December 29, 2008).
We need to show the Obama Administration that deporting Haitians is one of the failed policies of the past that he has pledged to reverse. A coalition of religious, solidarity, labor, immigration and Haitian organizations in South Florida have put their heads together, and drafted a letter urging President Obama to immediately stop the deportations. They are asking all of us to sign on. The letter is below, please sign it at: http://www.petitiononline.com/TPS2009/petition.html.
To: President Barack H. Obama
January 30, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
RE: The Administration Should Urgently Stay Deportations to Haiti
Dear President Obama:
First, congratulations on your new job. Immigrant communities look forward to working with your administration. Certainly you have many pressing priorities. We are compelled, however, to bring to your attention a life or death matter: Haitian deportees face hunger, homelessness and unemployment, if not worse, in the wake of four killer storms that further devastated our hemisphere’s poorest nation. We urge you to immediately stay deportations to Haiti pending review of U.S. immigration policy toward Haitians.
These deportations are inhumane and, we believe, contrary to your administration’s values of fairness, transparency and respect for human rights. Please consider:
• The former administration stayed deportations to Haiti in September only to resume them abruptly in December without notice or reasonable explanation. This was a last-minute Department of Homeland Security policy reversal. It should not stand.
• Conditions in Haiti remain abysmal. The storms destroyed 15 percent of its GDP—the equivalent of eight to 10 Hurricane Katrinas hitting the U.S. in one month. Yesterday the State Department renewed warnings to not to travel to Haiti due to the “destructive impact” of the storms.
• Staying the deportations is in the interest of the U.S. Sending more people in need of food and shelter will further burden the Haitian government, which already is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the natural disaster. Deportees only delay recovery efforts. Meanwhile, Haitians who remain here would continue to send remittances, encouraging relatives to stay in Haiti and help rebuild their country.
• These deportations tear apart families, hurting U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Vialine Jean Paul, 34, married a U.S. citizen. Their 7-year-old, U.S-born daughter is being treated for a chronic viral infection. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Ms. Jean Paul to buy plane tickets for herself and her daughter to go to Haiti on February 9. Her dilemma: Should she put her daughter at risk of malaria, hepatitis, cholera, malnutrition and uncertain medical care in Haiti or leave her sick daughter behind?
Across America, many want our government to stand with the Haitian people. Haiti still needs U.S. help. Please help by immediately staying deportations to Haiti and undoing the last administration’s late-term policy reversal. It is the fair and decent course of action.
Fanm Ayisyen Nan
Women of Miami
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Randolph P. McGrorty
Chief Executive Officer
Catholic Charities Legal Services
UNITE for Dignity
Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition
Fr. Reginald Jean-Mary
Notre Dame d’Haiti Mission
Grace Haitian United Methodist Church
For more information about the Half-Hour For Haiti program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) or human rights in Haiti, see our website, www.HaitiJustice.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts (about 2 per month), send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org.