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Extending TPS for Haitians Should be a Clear “Yes”

April 18, 2017 - 16:17

The Editorial Board of the Sun Sentinel joins Sunday’s editorial by Miami Herald, as well as letters from several Congresspersons urging the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. Haitians in the US were granted TPS in 2010 when an earthquake devastated the country, making it inhumane to send them back. Conditions in Haiti have worsened, with Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 leading to an ongoing food crisis, cholera brought by UN peacekeepers in 2010 still rampant, sexual abuse by the peacekeepers and general political instability. But the deadline for TPS is July 22 and there are no signs of whether the Trump administration plans to extend it again. Not only the Haitians with TPS but also their children who were born American and their families who are receiving remittances in Haiti are in an uncertain situation now. TPS should be extended ASAP.

More calls for TPS extension here.

Read the full editorial here.

Extend protection for Haitian immigrants | Editorial

Editorial Board, Sun Sentinel

April 18, 2017

Some 50,000 Haitians who have enjoyed a reprieve from deportation since 2010 are about to find out if President Donald Trump’s tough talk on immigration is sincere. No doubt they are hoping his campaign rhetoric on immigration is as constant as his stance on NATO, Russia, Chinese currency manipulation, Syria interest rates and globalism.

The Haitians in question had the good fortune to be in the United States when a massive earthquake struck the impoverished island nation on Jan. 12, 2010. In a humanitarian gesture, the Department of Homeland Security invited Haitians living in the U.S. to apply for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS in the department’s jargon.

The TPS program was invented to help people in precisely this set of circumstances, 18 months at a time.

 

Read the full editorial here.

 

Miami Herald Urges Extension of TPS for Haitians

April 15, 2017 - 09:25

The Miami Herald Editorial Board is joining in calls for the United States to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. TPS was first granted for Haitians on January 15, 2010, following the deadly earthquake of January 12. It has been extended continuously ever since but now the expiration date of July 22 is fast approaching with no indication of what will happen next and over 50,000 Haitians at risk of deportation if TPS isn’t extended. Haiti is still reeling from Hurricane Matthew, the UN cholera epidemic and even remaining damage from the 2010 earthquake. The government is in no position to handle deportees. There has been a bipartisan effort to extend TPS with letters signed by: Senators Nelson, Rubio, Schumer and Gillibrand; and Representatives Curbelo, Deutch, Diaz-Balart, Frankel, Hastings, Love, Ros-Lehtinen, Wasserman Schultz and Wilson.

Part of the editorial is below. Read the full text here.

Extend Temporary Protected Status for eligible Haitians

Editorial Board, Miami Herald

April 15, 2017

Change is coming at Haiti and its people at a furious pace: Thursday, the U.N. Security Council voted to end its 13-year peacekeeping operation there. Haiti has a new president, its third democratically elected leader since 2006. The United States has a new president, too, which could affect policy.

But one thing hasn’t changed when it comes to the poorest nation in this hemisphere — the need for the United States to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to allow the more than 50,000 covered Haitians living in this country to stay. Sending them home will do far more harm to Haiti than good to the United States.

Read the full text here.

Unanimous Vote Brings End to MINUSTAH

April 13, 2017 - 10:45

Today, the UN Security Council voted to end the MINUSTAH peacekeeping mission after a 13-year presence in Haiti. But, the end of this mission does not mean the end of the UN’s influence in the country. The vote determined that MINUSTAH will be replaced by a smaller police mission, which is intended to promote the rule of law and human rights. MINUSTAH has been plagued by controversy since it began its mission, and, despite what may happen with the future mission, many in Haiti are happy to see it go.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

UN to Close Haiti Peacekeeping Mission in October

Margaret Besheer, Voice of America News

April 13, 2017

The United Nations Security Council took action Thursday to begin shutting down its 13-year-old peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

The current 5,000-strong mission will begin drawing down its troops and transition in mid-October to a smaller force of just over 1,200 police personnel. It will focus on the rule of law, building Haitian police capacities and monitoring human rights.

“As the stabilization mission in Haiti draws down and the new mission gears up, the Haitian people will be set on the path of independence and self-sufficiency,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told council members.

The council said in its unanimously agreed resolution that the transition recognizes “the major milestone towards stabilization achieved” with the peaceful transfer of power in elections held in February.

Click HERE for the original article.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley Presses for UN Accountability

April 13, 2017 - 06:51

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addressed the UN Security Council (UNSC) Thursday after the UNSC voted to withdraw MINUSTAH in October and replace it with a much smaller police force. UN peacekeepers have been getting away with sexual abuse because it is up to their home countries to prosecute them for their crimes. This is even true for the 134 Sri Lankan troops who ran a sex ring in Haiti with nine children as young as 12: Not one was jailed and Sri Lanka continued sending peacekeepers to Haiti. As professor Mark Schuller says: “The U.N. is not accountable to the Haitian government or people. That creates a culture of implied immunity.”

U.S. Envoy Says U.N. Peacekeepers Must Be Punished for Sexual Abuse

Edith M. Lederer and Paisley Dodd, TIME

April 13, 2017

(UNITED NATIONS) — U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday urged all countries that provide troops for U.N. peacekeeping missions to hold soldiers accountable for sexual abuse and exploitation, an appeal that came after she cited an Associated Press investigation into a child sex ring in Haiti involving Sri Lankan peacekeepers.

She also warned that “countries that refuse to hold their soldiers accountable must recognize that this either stops or their troops will go home and their financial compensation will end.”

Haley was speaking after the Security Council voted unanimously to end the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti in mid-October, sending a strong signal that the international community believes the impoverished Caribbean nation is stabilizing after successful elections.

But the peacekeepers will leave with a tarnished legacy. U.N. troops from Nepal are widely blamed for introducing cholera that has killed at least 9,500 people in Haiti since 2010 and some troops have been implicated in sexual abuse.

“What do we say to these kids? Did these peacekeepers keep them safe?” Haley asked, citing the AP’s investigation detailing how at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers sexually abused and exploited nine Haitian children between 2004 and 2007.

Sri Lanka never jailed any soldiers implicated in the abuse yet the country was allowed to send troops to other U.N. missions.

Haley said after the vote that while the departure of the peacekeepers “is seen as a success, unfortunately it’s a nightmare for many in Haiti who will never be able to forget and live with brutal scars.”

Nine children in the Haiti sex ring — some as young as 12 — told U.N. investigators how Sri Lankan peacekeepers offered them snacks or money for sex. One boy said he slept with as many as 100 soldiers, averaging about four per day.

The details of the sex ring were part of a larger AP investigation of U.N. missions during the past 12 years that found an estimated 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and U.N. personnel around the world.

In Haiti, the 2,370 military personnel will gradually leave over the next six months. A new peacekeeping mission will follow for an initial period of six months, comprised of just 1,275 police to continue training the national police force and assist in developing the rule of law and promoting human rights in Haiti.

Haley said the United States and the international community are committed to Haiti’s “democratic development, independence and economic growth.”

“We will, however, continue to push for accountability of those troops in Haiti as well as all troop contributing countries involved in peacekeeping efforts,” she said.

“We owe it to the vulnerable in these countries who desperately need peace and security,” she told Security Council members. “I ask that you join me in this effort.”

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse and exploitation be court martialed in the countries where the alleged incidents take place and said the U.N. would withhold payments to peacekeepers facing credible allegations.

Responding to the AP report, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric had said Wednesday: “We need to address the problem, first, for the victims, but also to ensure that the perception of peacekeeping is not a wrong one.”

He stressed it is dangerous work done honorably by “the vast majority” of peacekeepers.

Mark Schuller, an academic studying what happens when international organizations leave countries like Haiti, said for Haitians, the U.N. has garnered a “love-hate” relationship, but the real issue is lack of accountability.

“The U.N. is not accountable to the Haitian government or people. That creates a culture of implied immunity,” said Schuller, a professor at N. Illinois University’s Department of Ethnology who spends part of his time in Haiti.

Jacqueline Nono said she was 17 when she started having sex with a Sri Lankan peacekeeper for money or gifts. She said the sex was consensual but she needed the money to pay for her two children.

“I’ve heard the stories about Sri Lankans abusing Haitians, but I was treated well,” said the 24-year-old in Port-au-Prince.

For Jean-Marie Pascal, there is no love lost for the United Nations.

She said a U.N. peacekeeper sexually assaulted her shortly after troops arrived in 2004 to quell instability following President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s ouster. After the 2010 earthquake struck, her two cousins died from a strain of cholera linked to U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal.

“Haiti has been a playground for the United Nations,” the 43-year-old shop assistant told the AP as part of its investigation.

The United Nations also suffered in Haiti, losing nearly 100 peacekeepers and personnel in the 2010 earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people.

Dodds reported from London. Associated Press writers David McFadden in Port-au-Prince Haiti and Jennifer Peltz at the United Nations contributed to this report.

See the original article.

AP Investigation Highlights UN’s Inability to Bring Justice for Sex Abuse Victims

April 12, 2017 - 09:05

Trish Wilson is the international investigators editor who oversaw a recent Associated Press investigation into UN sex abuse in Haiti. AP uncovered a sex ring involving at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, who exploited and abused 9 Haitian children over a period of three years. The UN had conducted an internal investigation into this ring; UN officials interviewed the children and confirmed their allegations of horrific abuse. However, the UN lacks jurisdiction to prosecute or punish its peacekeepers, and responsibility falls on perpetrators’ home countries. Thus, despite corroboration of the victims’ experiences, the peacekeepers faced few repercussions and were largely held unaccountable for the crimes, continuing a culture of impunity within the UN.

Part of the interview is shown below. Click HERE for the original interview.

UN peacekeepers accused of thousands of cases of abuse, AP finds

PBS NewsHour

April 12, 2017

JUDY WOODRUFF: The peacekeeping force deployed by the United Nations has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. That is due in no small part to past allegations of sexual abuse by troops deployed in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

A new investigation by the Associated Press finds the problem of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers is wider and even more disturbing than previously known.

Hari Sreenivasan has the story from our New York studios.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The AP found nearly 2,000 allegations of abuse and exploitation in the past 12 years. More than 300 of those cases involved children. And since the U.N. cannot punish peacekeepers from other countries, only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators served jail time.

The AP also spoke with officials in 23 countries who had troops serving as peacekeepers and were accused of these violations.

Trish Wilson is the international investigators editor who oversaw the AP story.

Ms. Wilson, thanks for joining us.

How did you come upon the investigations that were under way by the U.N.?

Click HERE for the original interview.

Hurricane Matthew Affects Agricultural Production & Raises Concerns for Future

April 12, 2017 - 08:05

Many families in Haiti are struggling to get by and meet their basic needs, amidst a rising food shortage months after Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc in the southern part of the country. Experts warn that the situation could be approaching a famine, and it will continue to deteriorate in the coming months if production does not increase this growing season. Authorities have not done enough to alleviate the crisis; the availability of shelter and food is still far below the demand. And, while initial humanitarian responses did help with providing food and water, the efforts did not focus enough on rebuilding agricultural capacity and helping Haitians regain their livelihoods. Now, months after the storm, many worry that Hurricane Matthew’s destruction will continue to be felt for a long time to come.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Six months after Hurricane Matthew, food, shelter still scarce in Haiti

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 12, 2017

Six months after Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti’s southern peninsula, shelter and food remain scarce especially in remote, difficult-to-reach areas.

El-Mostafa Benlamlih, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator and head of the U.N. Development Program for Haiti, said he would not describe the situation as a famine but “it could get close to that” if nothing is done and the hurricane-ravaged areas miss another planting season.

“If now we miss this one, this season, which is the main season for agriculture … then we will be in deep trouble in May, June and July,” Benlamlih said in a Miami Herald interview. “There are pockets of food insecurity particularly in remote areas…[People] don’t eat enough. They have to use coping strategies like drop one meal or send the kids to the uncle or family in Port-au-Prince. That’s what they are trying to do to survive.”

Click HERE for the original article.

Hundreds of United Nations Peacekeepers Get Away with Sexual Exploitation

April 12, 2017 - 07:28

While the United Nations would say its peacekeepers went to Haiti in 2004 to protect the people, many Haitians would disagree. That is especially true for the children and women who were sexually abused and exploited by UN peacekeepers from that first year, all the way to now, 12 years later. UN peacekeepers have been involved in gang rapes, exchanging food for sex and more with children as young as 9 and often for a few years in a row. Women have been left pregnant by peacekeepers to raise fatherless children on budgets that can’t support the family. According to UN data and interviews, the peacekeepers have been from Bangladesh, Brazil, Jordan, Nigeria, Uruguay and Sri Lanka; and there were likely more countries involved even before the report was compiled. Victims of peacekeepers often don’t report these incidents because they know that the way the system is set up – with peacekeepers being sent back to their home countries to be (most likely not) prosecuted – they aren’t likely to get justice and may even meet their attackers again after reporting them. This cycle of impunity must be stopped! As BAI’s Mario Joseph says, “Human rights aren’t just for rich white people.”

Part of the article is below. Read the full text here.

AP Exclusive: UN child sex ring left victims but no arrests

Paisley Dodds, The Associated Press

April 12, 2017

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — In the ruins of a tropical hideaway where jetsetters once sipped rum under the Caribbean sun, the abandoned children tried to make a life for themselves. They begged and scavenged for food, but they never could scrape together enough to beat back the hunger, until the U.N. peacekeepers moved in a few blocks away.

The men who came from a far-away place and spoke a strange language offered the Haitian children cookies and other snacks. Sometimes they gave them a few dollars. But the price was high: The Sri Lankan peacekeepers wanted sex from girls and boys as young as 12.

“I did not even have breasts,” said a girl, known as V01 — Victim No. 1. She told U.N. investigators that over the next three years, from ages 12 to 15, she had sex with nearly 50 peacekeepers, including a “Commandant” who gave her 75 cents. Sometimes she slept in U.N. trucks on the base next to the decaying resort, whose once-glamorous buildings were being overtaken by jungle.

Read the full text here.

Amnesty International Demands Protection for Plaintiffs in U.S. Federal Lawsuit

April 12, 2017 - 07:18

The recent lawsuit against former Haitian mayor Jean Morose Viliena originally included three plaintiffs, who sought justice in the U.S. court system for human rights abuses perpetrated during Viliena’s term in office. However, just one day after filing the lawsuit, plaintiff Nissan Martyr became suddenly ill and died. While authorities have authorized an autopsy, there has been no investigation into the cause of death. His family and lawyers continue to demand a full investigation.

The remaining plaintiffs’ lives are at risk. They report death threats and fear they will be killed before getting the opportunity to testify against Viliena. Haitian authorities must immediately provide protection for the plaintiffs and their families and initiate an investigation into Martyr’s death.

Part of the report is shown below. Click HERE for the original Urgent Action report.

URGENT ACTION – Haiti: Human Rights Defenders’ Lives at Risk

Amnesty International

April 12, 2017

Human rights defenders David Boniface and Juders Ysemé fear for their lives following the sudden death of their colleague, Nissage Martyr, one day after service of a lawsuit filed by the three men in the US for grave human rights violations against Jean Morose Viliena, the former mayor of their hometown in Haiti. The men have reported repeated death threats and attacks from the former mayor since 2007, and must be provided adequate protection.

Click HERE for the full Urgent Action report.

UN Lacks Credibility After Years of Failed Promises & Impunity

April 12, 2017 - 06:27

The UN Security Council is set to vote today on the future of the UN in Haiti and what, if anything, should replace the current peacekeeping mission. However, as the decision looms near, the UN continues its controversial legacy of injustice, exploitation and impunity in the struggling country. MINUSTAH has been heavily criticized for widespread sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable Haitians, which calls into question the UN’s immunity laws, its response to allegations and system for redress. Additionally, after 6 years of denying responsibility for the cholera outbreak that has killed over 10,000, the UN finally acknowledged its role in bringing the deadly disease to Haiti, but now struggles to fund its program to end cholera and compensate victims. Whatever the future might hold for the UN mission, though, one thing is certain; the UN must first right its wrongs in Haiti, or its lack of credibility and legitimacy will continue to thwart any intended progress now, and in the future.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

U.N. continues to stumble — badly — in Haiti

Lauren Carasik, Miami Herald

April 12, 2017

Nowhere is the United Nations’ lack of accountability more glaring than in Haiti. The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is responsible for causing a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands and for crimes, including sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), that have largely gone unpunished.

Thursday, as the Security Council votes on the future of MINUSTAH, it has a last chance to ensure that its mission’s legacy includes an accountable response for the harms it has caused. If the United Nations replaces MINUSTAH without doing right by Haiti, its successor mission, whose mandate will focus on promoting rule of law, will lack the credibility to succeed from its inception.

After six years of unconscionably denying its culpability in causing cholera, then-outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally accepted moral responsibility for the U.N.’s role and its “collective responsibility to deliver” relief. He announced the New Approach, a $400 million strategy comprising two tracks: the first focused on upgrading badly failing water, sanitation and health infrastructure systems; and the second entailing “a package of material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by cholera, centered on the victims and their families and communities.”

Click HERE for the original article.

 

Extending Haitians’ TPS is in U.S. Interests Too

April 11, 2017 - 12:31

Haitians were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States after the 2010 earthquake killed over 250,000 people and destroyed much of Port-au-Prince’s infrastructure. Even today, over 500,000 people are still living in tents since the earthquake. Hurricane Matthew, which devastated the southern peninsula of Haiti in October 2016, made the situation even worse and also exacerbated the cholera epidemic brought by UN peacekeepers in 2010. Haiti is not equipped to handle the 58,000 people who would be forced to return if TPS is not renewed and besides severely destabilizing its close neighbor, the U.S. would lose countless social, economic and political contributions Haitians make to this country.

Part of the article is below. Read the full article here.

Haitians still need protective status

Marleine Bastien, Miami Herald

April 11, 2017

In October 2016, Haiti was once again hit by a severe hurricane; this one left more than 700 dead and the entire Southern peninsula destroyed. From the wreckage arose food insecurity because of crop destruction, leading to severe malnutrition and further exacerbating the imported cholera outbreak that hit the country after the 2010 earthquake.

As the time for the renewal of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) quickly approaches — July 22 — Haitian nationals living in the United States and their families are anxiously awaiting a decision from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It will take more than 90 days for their permits to be processed, and many are already losing their jobs.

It is in the United States’ national interest to extend TPS for another 24 months. If this country were to deport 58,000 people, it would severely destabilize Haiti and instantly cut off remittances to thousands of families who rely on them for survival.

 

Read the full article here.

Haitian Migrants Running Out of Options in Mexico

April 10, 2017 - 17:52

This article follows volunteer Hugo Castro in Tijuana as he orders and then brings supplies to a shelter there and finds out that all but one of the Haitian migrants living there have left. Apparently, the Mexican government is no longer funding the shelters and as they now rely solely on volunteers and donations, the Pastor heading this particular shelter has asked the migrants to leave. Castro is frustrated, knowing that the migrants have limited alternatives for shelter. He ultimately delivers his carload of supplies to a few other shelters still open in downtown Tijuana. The situation is bleak for the Haitians who travelled miles and miles, often through dangerous areas, to reach the U.S. border before the U.S. decided to resume noncriminal deportations to Haiti. Castro emphasizes that it is up to the people, not political leaders, to effect change and help these migrants.

Part of the article is below. Read the full article here.

San Diego Volunteers Help Haitians Survive In Mexico

Jean Guerrero, KPBS

April 10, 2017

Hugo Castro pulled a wad of $100 bills from his wallet and ordered hundreds of pounds of rice, oatmeal, oil, spaghetti and cleaning bleach at Tijuana’s main wholesale market.

“We are shopping, trying to maximize the money,” he said, wearing a black shirt emblazoned with a cross and the question, “Who Would Jesus Deport?”

As the heavy boxes and bags filled his two-door Toyota Solara, the car’s tires sank an inch or two. Castro inspected them with a grimace.

“Sometimes, they burst with the weight,” he said. “They just explode.”

Castro is leading a project called S.O.S. Migrante Adopt a Shelter, which supplies 18 of Tijuana’s migrant shelters with food and other essentials. The San Diego nonprofit Border Angels collects donations and leads volunteers on supply drop-offs.

Full article and video segment here.

Haitian Communities’ Stress Mounts as TPS Deadline Approaches

April 10, 2017 - 15:19

After the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haitians were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the U.S. because the conditions in Haiti were too poor to accommodate them. Ever since then, the deadline has been extended every 18 months but now, major uncertainty looms over how the Trump administration will deal with TPS. Will they allow Haitians a more permanent path to staying in the U.S. as has been recommended by a Federal court in San Francisco, will they extend TPS for Haitians or will they end TPS altogether? Some Haitians are even being denied jobs due to the fear that their work permits will expire this summer.

The continued suffering and hunger after the October 2016 Hurricane Matthew demonstrates that Haiti is still ill-equipped to handle a large influx of people. Haitians living in the U.S. are able to send remittances back to help their families there rebuild and grow the economy, and making them go back would leave a big hole in the communities where they currently live. So what’s next?

Part of the article is below. Read the full article here.

Trump And TPS: Will He Extend Haitians’ Stay Here Or Send Them Back?

Tim Padgett, WLRN

April 10, 2017

Farah Larrieux is a Haitian who for the past dozen years has built a tele-life in South Florida. She’s hosted the public affairs program “Haiti Journal” on PBS channel WPBT. She has a TV production company.

“I have an entertainment show on the satellite network Teleanacaona,” she tells me.

Achievement awards and community service plaques hang on the walls of Larrieux’s house in Miramar. But right now a big anxiety also hangs over her life here – and will for another three months.

“If President Trump doesn’t sign the executive order to extend TPS for Haitians, your life collapses,” Larrieux says, “and you’re going to be in deportation proceedings, too.”

 

Read the full article here.

HSNNE Honors IJDH Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom

April 10, 2017 - 10:00

Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast invites you to the 23rd ANNUAL FUNDRAISER DINNER DANCE, Wings of Hope for Haiti. Honorees at this event are Beatrice Lindstrom, human rights advocate Sonia Pierre, Dr. David Butler from Holy Name Hospital, and CEO of Holy Name Hospital, Michael Maron.

 

 

 

WHEN:

Saturday, April 29, 2017

8:00pm to 1:00am

WHERE:

Caldwell University Student Center

120 Bloomfield Avenue

Caldwell, New Jersey 07006

 

Regular tickets are $50 and student tickets, $25.

 

Click HERE for more info and the ticket/fundraiser form.

Haitians Fear for the Future as They Continue to Urge Immediate TPS Extension

April 6, 2017 - 13:08

Approximately 58,000 Haitians will be sent back to Haiti if their Temporary Protected Status, which was approved by President Obama after the 2010 earthquake, is not extended after its expiration in July. Haitians, their families, lawyers, politicians, and community members fear the devastating effects if TPS is not extended and they are required to return to a struggling Haiti. Tens of thousands of individuals will lose their jobs and be unable to send remittances back to their families. Additionally, returning to Haiti would create even more risks for these individuals and the country as a whole, which already faces a severe food shortage, cholera outbreak and lack of adequate shelter. Although TPS does not expire until July, lawyers warn that the changes need to happen immediately.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Haitians wonder if they will be sent home to a still-devastated Haiti

Mimi Whitefield, Miami Herald

April 6, 2017

Given President Donald Trump’s hard line on illegal immigration, Haitians are afraid that a special status that allowed some 58,000 Haitians to stay in the United States as their nation recovered from a devastating 2010 earthquake may not be renewed.

Former President Barack Obama approved Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in the wake of the earthquake. It is up for renewal on July 22, but many Haitians who took advantage of the program fear it won’t be extended, sending them back to an impoverished country where efforts to rebuild housing are lagging and 750,000 people still don’t have safe water for drinking and cooking.

“Over 6 1/2 years later, Haiti is still trying to recover. Over 6 1/2 years later, we still have people living under tents. Imagine sending 58,000 people to a country in turmoil,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of FANM (Haitian Women of Miami), one of about a dozen community groups that came together Thursday in Little Haiti to call for the immediate extension of TPS.

“We are here to ask our partners in the Trump administration to pay attention to Haiti,” Bastien said. “People are anxious, they are concerned, they are scared to death” that they will be sent back.

Click HERE for the original article.

Congrats to IJDH Collaborator Profiled in Le Floridien!

April 6, 2017 - 08:44

Our collaborator Soeurette Michel is featured in the latest issue of Le Floridien (along with a lot of reprints of articles related to our work). The profile tells the story of the obstacles Soeurette had to overcome in order to become an attorney and eventually create her own law firm. Soeurette was involved in the Haitian American diaspora cholera brief, which is briefly mentioned. Congratulations to Soeurette! We are honored to work with such a remarkable human rights advocate.

Part of the article is below. Read the full article here (page 11).

LAW BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY: HOW SHE BECAME A LAWYER“I know I can be what I want to be. If I work hard at it, I’ll be where I want to be.”

Jaury Jean-Enard, Le Floridien

April 1-15, 2017

Such is the chorus of songwriter Nas’s 2002 song entitled, “I Can.” This song encourages people, especially children, to work hard at their dreams. It was also nominated for best rap video. And if there were a best Haitian lawyer success story, it would probably be Soeurette Michel.

In January 13, 2001, Michel arrived in the U.S. after barely escaping an abduction attempt in Haiti three days prior. After leaving the bank in Fontamara (neighborhood in the Western department of Haiti) she was robbed. Her purse was stolen; and by sheer luck, the robbers discussed kidnapping her, but instead they let her go. Her visit to the U.S. was intended to be a short escape from political instabilities. Instead, her mother and other family members encouraged her to stay permanently. She was in her late twenties and moved in with her then sister-in-law in Orlando, FL.

Today she is known as Attorney Soeurette Michel – a well-respected attorney and CEO of The Michel Law Firm, LLC. Her firm, which she established in 2012, specializes in business litigation, criminal defense, immigration, naturalization law, and human rights. Michel has worked on several high profile cases, such as: the Haiti Cholera case against the United Nations, the Diaspora Mission for Haiti’s 2016 elections, and migration crisis of Haitians throughout Central and Latin America.

Currently, she is focused on human rights and TPS protection of an influx of Haitians coming in the U.S. via the Mexican border near Tijuana.

Read the full article here (page 11).

The Shared Struggle of African Americans and Haitians

April 6, 2017 - 07:27

In this video, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and the senior African American woman serving in Congress; and Mildred T. Aristide, attorney and former First Lady of Haiti, discuss historical and contemporary matters that relate to African American and Haitian progress at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI.

April 6, 2017

After Death of a Loved One, Haitians Must Choose: Lifetime of Debt or a Funeral?

April 6, 2017 - 07:08

Imagine coping with the death of a loved one, and being told that you must pay more money than your annual income to ‘properly’ bury the deceased. This is the reality for many impoverished Haitians when they are at their most vulnerable and grief-stricken; they are charged exorbitant fees solely for the profit of those in the burial business, who exploit the family members’ unawareness of cheaper options and their desires to pay respect to the deceased. 2/3 of Haitians live on less than $2 per day, and funeral fees will put them into debt for years to come. This issue continues to be of critical importance as the death toll from cholera, food shortages and natural disasters continues to rise daily.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Grieving Haitians go into lifetime of debt to fund funerals

David McFadden, Associated Press

April 6, 2017

Aspasie Tanis lives hand-to-mouth on the edge of eviction in the best of times, scraping out a living selling packets of spaghetti and cookies outside her low-slung concrete shack in Haiti’s capital. Now the death of her father by stroke threatens to send her into a lifetime of debt.

The distraught single mother is frantically seeking loans from friends and pastors to pay for the cheapest funeral on offer. Hospital morgue officials say her father’s body will be dumped in a pauper’s grave unless her struggling family forks over a relative fortune of just over $1,000.

“I’ll never be at peace if he isn’t buried properly,” Tanis said quietly after transferring her father’s corpse to a cut-rate private morgue.

Her anxiety is shared by many in Haiti, where two out of three people live on less than $2 per day and burying the dead is a predatory business. While funerals are costly in any number of countries, Haitian undertakers get away with charging rates that exceed what most citizens earn in a year.

Along the capital’s bustling Rue de l’Enterrement, established morticians and unlicensed freelancers engage in a daily bidding war for new customers while telling bereaved families that anything less than their set packages can be seen as a lack of respect for the dead.

Click HERE for the original article.

Detention and Deportations of Noncriminal Haitians Arriving from Mexico

April 5, 2017 - 10:22
Join the Haiti Deportation Response Network (HDRN)!

On September 22, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began detaining for “expedited removal” (deportation) noncriminal Haitians appearing at Mexico-US border crossings; deportations began on November 3 and 8, despite the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew a few weeks earlier, and number about 300 per week on three weekly flights to Haiti. DHS is detaining about 3,000+ of them in dozens of facilities remote from any available attorneys and Creole interpreters, facilitating their deportation in violation of their right to assert political asylum claims.  Among other steps, IJDH has created the Haiti Deportations Response Network (HDRN) to recruit attorneys and interpreters to address the crisis.  Relevant articles are below. See also our sections on asylum claim resources, on Food Insecurity after Hurricane Matthew, and on Temporary Protected Status for Haitians.

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Developments

On February 17, AZ Central reports that “U.S. accelerates deportation of Haitian migrants“.

On January 26, Caribbean360 quoted Steve Forester in their article “Haitians in US Dreading Deportation“.

On December 13, “Thousands of Haitian migrants amassed at U.S.-Mexico border unsure what’s next

MoveOn.org petition, “End Cholera and Protect Haitians in the US”

On November 10, U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson issued a press release denouncing the resumption of deportation flights to Haiti.

On November 8, NewsDeeply reported on the “Humanitarian Crisis on U.S. Border: Haitians Stranded by Policy

On November 8, the “U.S. government quietly resumes deportations to Haiti” as news about Hurricane Matthew died down.

On November 4, “Feds eye Ohio prison for housing Haitian illegal immigrants

On November 2, U.S. Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke called on Obama Administration to immediately halt deportations of Haitian nationals.

MoveOn.org petition, “End Cholera & Aid Elections in Haiti; Protect Haitians in US,” based on the October 20 Florida leaders’ letter below (garnered about 4,500 endorsers).

On November 1, national Catholic leaders wrote U.S. Secretaries Jeh Johnson (DHS) and John Kerry (State) urging redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), expanding the Haitian Family Reunification Program (HFRP) and more.

On October 8, the New York Times editorial board urged TPS re-designation and a halt to deportations in light of Hurricane Matthew.

On October 5, a bipartisan letter to President Obama from 57 U.S. Representatives, co-sponsored by Rep. Frederica Wilson and circulated before Matthew struck Haiti, strongly urged reinstatement of the pre-September 22 parole and non-removal policy.

In their September 27 op-ed, Steve Forester (IJDH) and Marleine Bastien (FANM) urged expanding the HFRP (paragraphs 3-11).

 

Articles & Letters

Stranded Haitian migrants seek new home on Mexico-U.S. border – Reuters, March 16, 2017

Thousands Of Deported Haitians And Africans Wait To Cross The Border In Tijuana – Konbini, March 13, 2017

Haitians in US Dreading Deportation – Caribbean360, January 26, 2017

Here’s why Obama should broaden TPS for Haitians – Miami Herald, December 24, 2016

Tijuana welcomes Haitian immigrants stuck at U.S.-Mexico borderPBS Newshour, December 23, 2016

Dear President Obama, while there is time – Medium, December 20, 2016

Haitian-American Elected Officials Ask President Obama to Expand Family Reunification – South Florida Caribbean News, December 16, 2016

7,000 miles to salvation – The Washington Post, December 16, 2016

Thousands of Haitian migrants amassed at U.S.-Mexico border unsure what’s next – AZ Central, December 13, 2016

Haitians alarmed by renewed U.S. deportations as Trump era loomsUPI, December 8, 2016

U.S. picking up pace of deportations to Haiti – Miami Herald. November 23, 2016

US congresswoman Clarke calls on White House to halt deportations of Haitians November 10, 2016

Press release: Congresswoman Frederica Wilson on resumption of deportation flights to Haiti November 10, 2016

Sens. Menendez and Nelson Lead TPS Request for Haitians in Wake of Hurricane Matthew – October 13, 2016

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand Urge DOS and DHS to Grant TPS to Haitians – October 12, 2016

Hastings Urges President Obama to Expand TPS for Haitians Affected by Hurricane Matthew – October 12, 2016

Congressman Hastings Urges Expansion of TPS for Haitians After Hurricane Matthew – October 12, 2016

Church World Service Demands TPS, No Deportation for Haitians – October 12, 2016

After stay of Haitian deportation policy, local leaders encouraged but still fightingMiami Herald. October 12, 2016

US policy on deporting Haitians on hold in wake of hurricaneThe Washington Post. October 11, 2016

Activists Call Haitian Deportation Policy “Abomination”CBS Local Miami. October 10, 2016

Deportation to a disaster zone: Obama under pressure to stop crackdown on Haitian migrants as Hurricane Matthew wreaks havoc on islandSalon. October 7, 2016

Haiti’s New CatastropheThe New York Times. October 7, 2016

Bipartisan letter (attached) from 57 US Reps Urges President Obama to Halt Haiti Deportation Policy – October 6, 2016

Haitian Men Cut Off From Families as U.S. Tightens Entry RulesThe New York Times. September 29, 2016

Obama’s contradictory stance toward black asylum seekersThe Hill. September 28, 2016

New policy to deport Haitians is inhumaneMiami Herald. September 27, 2016

U.S. tightens immigration policy on undocumented Haitians – Humanosphere. September 26, 2017

Haitians, After Perilous Journey, Find Door to U.S. Abruptly ShutThe New York Times. September 23, 2016

Uncertainty for Haitians in TijuanaSan Diego Union Tribune. September 23, 2016

Haitian Reunification fight to continue, activists sayMiami Herald. October 21, 2014

Obama to expedite U.S. entry for thousands of HaitiansMiami Herald. October 17, 2014

Actions

End Cholera and Protect Haitians in the US – MoveOn.org petition to the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and President Barack Obama.

End Cholera & Aid Elections in Haiti; Protect Haitians in US – About 4,500 people endorsed this MoveOn.org petition to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate

Action Alert to DHS: Ensure the well-being of Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew – Email/letter to President Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson

Tell President Obama to Reverse Deportation Policy Against Haitian Refugees! – Petition to President Obama

The Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti is Closer Than You Think – Petition to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson

URGENT: Tell DHS Secretary Johnson to Protect Haitians – Urged calling Congress

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Haitian Immigration Rights – General

Click HERE for links to over 80 editorials, resolutions, political letters, op-eds, petitions, and other support urging the President and DHS to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.

*If you’re looking for information on the Dominican Republic’s citizenship crisis, click HERE.*

Overview

IJDH’s immigration advocacy is built on three decades of leadership in ensuring a safe haven in the U.S. for Haiti’s persecuted.  We seek creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program to save lives, reunite families, expedite orderly migration and speed recovery by increasing the flow of remittances to loved ones in Haiti. The Haiti Asylum Information Project (HAIP), established in 2004, has provided asylum applicants from across Haiti’s political spectrum the expert testimony and country condition information they need to present strong cases. Our Stop Deportations Now Campaign, the platform for years-long Temporary Protected Status (TPS) advocacy in Congress, the media, and the streets led to the suspension of all non-criminal deportations to Haiti in early 2009 and facilitated the immediate grant of TPS to Haitians in the United States after Haiti’s January 12, 2010 earthquake.

Expediting Haitian Family Reunification

IJDH leads nationwide advocacy urging the Obama administration to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP).  Nearly 110,000 Haitians are beneficiaries of family-based immigrant visa petitions which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already approved but who remain on wait lists of up to more than 12 years in Haiti, where many may not survive.  A Cuban FRPP expedites family reunification for similarly-situated Cuban beneficiaries; IJDH has built extensive support and momentum for creation of a similar Haitian program. Our campaign succeeded on October 17, 2014, when DHS announced it would implement an HFRPP in early 2015 to expedite the entry into the U.S. of approved beneficiaries whose visas are within two years of becoming current. While thrilled with this development, which should help thousands, we will seek to expand coverage of the new program to include all DHS-approved beneficiaries in Haiti, many of whom are on wait lists of up to 12 years (not just two), and closely monitor its implementation to seek to insure its maximum effectiveness.

Click HERE for links to letters, resolutions, editorials, reports, petitions and op-eds urging creation of a Haitian FRPP to save lives and speed Haiti’s recovery.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

On Jan­u­ary 21, 2010, after years of IJDH advo­cacy and a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake nine days ear­lier, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity (DHS) des­ig­nated Haiti for Tem­po­rary Pro­tected Sta­tus (TPS) for 18 months. In May, 2011, DHS extended TPS for another 18 months to Jan­u­ary 22, 2013, and redes­ig­nated it to include Haitians who had arrived in the United States by Jan­u­ary 12, 2011, one year after the quake. On Octo­ber 1, 2012, DHS extended TPS for Haiti for another 18 months, to July 22, 2014.  Most recently, on March 3, 2014, DHS extended TPS for another 18 months, through January 22, 2016. As always, Haitians seek­ing TPS pro­tec­tion and work autho­riza­tion must apply indi­vid­u­ally, meet­ing eli­gi­bil­ity require­ments described by DHS’s United States Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS).
TPS pro­tects most Haitians in the United States from depor­ta­tion to Haiti, and IJDH works with a broad range of advo­cates to trouble-shoot TPS imple­men­ta­tion issues as they arise.

Calls for re-designating TPS (and expanding HFRP) after Hurricane Matthew are HERE.

Haitian Asylum Information Project (HAIP)

The Haitian Asylum Information Project (HAIP) is an online resource library for asylum applicants and their lawyers. It contains key documents, contact information, and model pleadings to facilitate the filing of successful Haitian asylum cases.
Click HERE to learn more about HAIP.

Stop Deportations Now Campaign

Click HERE to learn more about the campaign.

Take Action

Take action now for fair immigration policy toward Haitians. Make your voice heard by signing petitions, writing to or calling your representatives, and getting up-to-date information about Haitian immigration.

UN Credibility at Risk with Lack of Promised Action Against Cholera

April 4, 2017 - 12:04

On December 1, 2016 when UN Secretary-General at the time, Ban Ki-moon, announced a new approach to cholera in Haiti, victims and advocates rejoiced at the UN finally taking a step towards the justice that had been denied for six years. Of the $400 million promised that day though, only $2.7 million has been received and $10 million total including pledged contributions. It seems that the new Secretary General, António Guterres is also leaning towards not asking for assessed contributions from UN member states despite their inaction in funding this plan. After six years of denial and dodging accountability for cholera, a failure to follow through on this new plan would do irreparable damage to the UN and its role in promoting human rights all over the world.

Part of the article is below. Read the full article here.

Will State Inaction at UN Imperil Haiti Cholera Response?

Nathan Yaffe, IPI Global Observatory

April 4, 2017

The United Nations took a decisive step toward strengthening accountability when it announced a “new approach” to cholera in Haiti, on December 1 last year. In an official apology for the UN mission in Haiti’s role in the disease outbreak, then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged not only the UN’s “moral duty” to “do the right thing for the Haitian people,” but also the international community’s “collective responsibility to deliver.” Six years after the start of what remains the world’s largest modern day cholera epidemic, the apology and commitment to redress marked an important shift from the UN’s earlier and widely criticized denial of responsibility for the outbreak.

Yet just four months later, concerns abound that the world body will fail to deliver on the promise of its new approach. Voluntary contributions are stagnant: The trust fund established by the UN has received only $2.7 million of the $400 million estimated to be required, with additional contributions bringing the funding total to roughly $10 million. Now, Secretary-General António Guterres appears to have caved to pressure from some UN member states to take the option of funding its new approach through assessed contributions off the table, despite other states favoring this approach.

Thus, there is a real risk that the UN will break its promise to the people of Haiti, dealing another blow to the organization’s credibility on the world stage. This would also send a message that member state commitment to peacekeeper accountability stops at the point where funding is needed. As the New York Times put it in a recent editorial, the lack of follow-through to date provides a “lesson in evading moral responsibility.” At a time when faith in multilateralism and peacekeeping is receding, this is a blow the UN cannot afford.

 

Read the full article here.

Haiti’s Extreme Prison Conditions Reach Australian News

April 4, 2017 - 06:44

Haiti’s prisons were already overcrowded but conditions worsened after the 2010 earthquake, which aggravated the backlog of paper work by destroying several government buildings. Many of the prisoners have never even seen a judge and even men who have been approved for discharge remain in prison due to conflicts in their paperwork. This article shows why improvements in Haiti’s judicial system are so necessary.

Part of the article is below. Read the full article here.

Haiti’s Prison from Hell: ‘I can’t cope, I have no-one’

Debra Killalea, news.com.au

April 4, 2017

IT’S so overcrowded there’s barely room to move.

Dozens of men are crammed into cells for hours on end, some without access to a toilet.

Welcome to Haiti’s National Penitentiary.

Regarded as one of the most overcrowded prisons in the world, Dateline reporter Seyi Rhodes goes inside and discovers the shocking conditions many are forced to endure.

Among the overcrowded inmates, 80 per cent have been imprisoned without a conviction while others have been languishing inside for years awaiting their fate.

 

Read the full article here.