South Florida Caribbean News
About 300 members of the Haitian Coalition for TPS and the Haitian Citizen United Task Force, Inc. (www.allcitizen.org) traveled from South Florida to rally outside the White House today to highlight the critical need for Temporary Protected Status for Haitians.
In December of 2008, the United States began forcibly deporting 30,000 Haitians back to their country, a country ravaged by consecutive natural disasters last September. The two hurricanes and two tropical storms that hit Haiti in devastating succession during harvest season last year killed nearly 1,000 people and left 800,000 of the country’s residents in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. The storms destroyed at least $180 million in crops, exacerbating an existing food shortage.
In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Miami Herald that the administration is reviewing the U.S. policy of deporting Haitians. Sec. Clinton told the Herald “what a tremendous burden it would be on Haiti if all of a sudden they were forced to accommodate the thousands of people who were otherwise working in our country. So we expect that we will be able to look closely at this and try to come up with some appropriate responses to the challenges posed.”
“We felt that, especially after what Mrs. Clinton said in Haiti regarding TPS, that the administration was working on it, we felt that it was almost over, the big fight (for TPS). Unfortunately, since she said that, nothing has happened. It seems like they don’t want to talk about it anymore,” said Lesly Jacques (CQ), of the Haitian Coalition for TPS.
“We came with about 300 people from Broward and Palm Beach County to tell Mr. Obama it’s time (to grant TPS to Haiti),” said Jacques.
The Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress can offer a humanitarian helping hand by granting Temporary Protected Status to the Haitians, allowing them an opportunity to stay temporarily on our shores as they await the moment when their nation can accept their safe return. Congress established TPS to grant safety to foreign nationals in just such circumstances as those currently facing Haiti.
Deporting 30,000 people to Haiti under the current circumstances would only act to further aggravate the current humanitarian crisis and increase the stress on Haiti’s already weak economy. The destabilizing effects will be yet another blow to an already struggling democracy. This is a matter of life and death for Haitians.