January 16, 2010
Half-Hour for Haiti: Responding to Haiti’s Devastation, Part II
Good News: Yesterday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. Thanks to everyone who has written, emailed and called to make this happen. Steve Forester, Director of our Stop Deportations Now! Campaign, is now working with other lawyers to develop materials for applicants and advocates, and to deal with obstacles to implementation such as the hefty application fee. We will post updates on our website, and send more action alerts if necessary. Good news from Haiti includes reports from clients Yvon Neptune and Ronald Dauphin, former BAI staff Pascalle Duvivier and Daniel Tillias, and former intern Amber Munger.
Update: In Haiti, we are staying out of the way of the emergency relief professionals. Outside Haiti we are working to ensure that the international community’s response to the earthquake includes long-term assistance rooted employing a rights-based approach to make Haiti less vulnerable to the next natural disaster. For more on this, listen to Democracy Now!’s Thursday show, including Bill Quigley, me and others. Read the New York Times’ Room for Debate page featuring a piece from IJDH. See our joint statement with five other human rights organizations urging respect for human rights in delivering assistance to Haiti. Read Bill Quigley’s The Ten Things The U.S. Can And Should Do To Help.
We’ve received a generous stream of people asking us what they can do to help. We have linked volunteers with appropriate organizations when we could. For lawyers, we are putting together the Lawyer Earthquake Response Network (LERN). It may take some time to have the network operational, especially with the difficulty communicating with our colleagues in Haiti. But if you’d like to stay in the loop, sign up here.
This week’s action: The way that Haiti is portrayed in the U.S. press has a strong impact on the way it is treated by the U.S. government. Yesterday, David Brooks wrote a column blaming Haiti’s poverty, and its vulnerability to earthquakes, in part on its culture. This column, by a respected writer in the New York Times, is infinitely more dangerous to Haitians than the more dismissible outrageous statements of Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson. It can help provide the intellectual foundation for decreasing urgently needed assistance and for paternalistic policies that will continue to disempower the Haitian government and its people.
Long-time Haiti activist and theologian Tom Driver and colleague Carl Lindskoog felt that Mr. Brooks’ statements required a response, and we agree. Please consider adding your name to their open letter to David Brooks. They are asking for a response by noon tomorrow, Sunday.
To add your name, follow this link .
Brian Concannon Jr.
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti