Obama Resumes Deportation of Hatian Nationals



the U.S. government resumed its deportation of Haitian nationals convicted of criminal offenses. Despite petitions and objections filed by civil and human rights groups to halt detentions, 27 Haitian nationals have been deported thus far.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, has justified these deportations as removal of criminal elements from the United States. While the Department of Homeland Security has stated that only Haitians with criminal records will be removed, detentions have occurred for “offenses” that run the gamut, including traffic violations.

“It is hypocritical that the same day that the Department of Homeland Security announced it would resume deportations to Haiti, a travel warning was issued by the State Department,” said Francesca Menes, Community Organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), “The message the U.S. is sending is that it is acceptable to turn our backs on those who are living in inhumane conditions, but it’s not acceptable for U.S. Citizens to be present in similar conditions.”

In what could be all but called a criminal act, Haitian nationals are returned to a country that continues to languish after the hurricanes and floods of 2008 and the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010 which killed 230,000 people.  Deportees are returning to political instability, crumbling infrastructure and inhumane living conditions.

1.2 million people continue living in tent camps. The lack of proper sanitation and medical care at these camps led to a cholera outbreak that bared itself in December of 2010 and has since claimed 3,889 lives and affected 194,000 nationwide.   As homelessness and joblessness persist throughout the island, violence against women, rapes and child prostitution and human trafficking have increased.

Moreover, hundreds of Haitians have been relocated to prisons across Louisiana as part of the deportation process to await removal. Despite the upheavals occurring in Haiti, boats are also being driven back by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The deportations of Haitian nationals further delay Haiti’s recovery as potential workers that could send millions into Haiti through remittances are returned to their country of origin. Florida will languish without their contributions. Additionally, 55,000 Haitians with approved family petitions remain separated from their U.S. based relatives due to U.S. visa backlogs and bureaucracy that shows no signs of speeding up.

“These illogical attitudes underscore the racism perpetuated upon Haitians, at home and abroad, said Isabel Vinent, Deputy Director of FLIC, “The administration has to stop the deportations. Not even 12 months have gone by after the earthquake and conditions in Haiti have only deteriorated. If special provisions and considerations have been provided to others fleeing from oppression, persecution and disaster, the people of Haiti should also receive the same treatment.”
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Administracion de Obama reanuda deportaciones de ciudadanos haitianos

el gobierno de EE.UU. reanudó la deportación de ciudadanos haitianos identificados como criminales. A pesar de las peticiones y objeciones presentadas por los grupos de derechos civiles y ONGs para poner fin a las detenciones, 27 personas han sido deportados hasta la fecha.

ICE  ha justificado estas deportaciones como la eliminación de los elementos criminales de los Estados Unidos. El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional ha afirmado que sólo los haitianos con antecedentes penales serán deportados. Sin embargo, se han llevado acabo multiples detenciones por infracciones menores, incluyendo violaciónes de tráfico.

“Es increible que el mismo día que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional anunció que reanudaría las deportaciones a Haití, una advertencia de viaje fue emitida por el Departamento de Estado,” dijo Francesca Menes, organizadora de la comunidad con la Coalición de Inmigrantes de Florida (FLIC), “El mensaje que EE.UU. está enviando es que es aceptable darle la espalda a aquellos que viven en condiciones inhumanas, pero no es aceptable que los ciudadanos de EE.UU. esten presentes en condiciones similares. ”

En lo que podría ser interpretado como un acto criminal, las personas de origen haitianos son devueltas a un país que sigue languideciendo después de los huracanes y las inundaciones del 2008 ; un devastador terremoto del 12 de enero de 2010 que mató a 230.000 personas y a la inestabilidad política.

1,2 millones de personas aun siguen viviendo en tiendas de campaña. Las condiciones insalubres y la falta de atención médica en estos campos condujo a un brote de cólera que se desató en diciembre del 2010 y desde entonces ha reclamado 3.889 vidas y afectó a 194.000. Y a lo largo de la isla aun persiste la falta de vivienda y el desempleo, la violencia contra las mujeres, las violaciones y la prostitución infantil y el trafico humano ha aumentado.

Por otra parte, cientos de haitianos han sido trasladados a prisiones en Louisiana a la espera de expulsion del país, como parte del proceso de deportación. A pesar de los trastornos que ocurren en Haití, las balsas encaminadas a los EE.UU. también están siendo rechazados por la Guardia Costera norteamericana.
Las deportaciones de nacionales haitianos demora aun más la recuperación de Haití, ya que potenciales trabajadores que pudieran enviar millones en remesas a Haití son devueltos a su país de origen. Mientras tanto, Florida languidecen sin sus contribuciones. Además, 55.000 haitianos con peticiones de asilo aprobadas permanecen separadas de sus familiares que viven en los EE.UU., debido a los retrasos visa de EE.UU. y la burocracia que no muestra signos de aceleración.

“Estas actitudes ilógicas subrayado el racismo perpetúa a los haitianos, en su casa y en el extranjero, dijo Isabel Vinent, Director Adjunto de la oficina de FLIC,” La administración tiene que parar las deportaciones. Ni siquiera 12 meses han transcurrido después del terremoto y las condiciones en Haití sólo han empeorado. Si las disposiciones especiales y consideraciones han sido prestados a otros que huyen de la opresión, la persecución y el desastre, el pueblo de Haití también deben recibir el mismo trato. ”

 

What We Do for Love/Lo Que Hacemos por Amor

Photo: Favianna Rodriguez

On the first day of this year, January 1st, 2010 both young and seasoned immigrant rights leaders in Florida have strategically and provocatively escalated our efforts, including a risky 1,500 mile walk and a life-threatening, INDEFINITE fast. While we endeavor arduously for just and humane immigration reform, we urge the administration to do what it can, NOW, to stop the separation of American families, including halting the deportation of young people.

Fasters include several mothers who will do anything to be with their children, a Puerto Rican man, member of the Miami Workers Center whose wife risks deportation, a Haitian mother, client of Haitian Women of Miami, now shackled with an ankle bracelet, and a female professional truckdriver, the initiator of the fast, who lost her business and her livelihood for her family. Their respective statements will be released within days.

Please help spread the word–and consider skipping a meal and donating that money to support the Fast or Trail!

Below is a statement from one of the fasters, many of you know him, a thoughtful person, grandson of Jewish immigrants, highly respected for his integrity, who has more than 35 years in the social justice and labor movements. Jon, who is over 50 years old, explains why he took on this life-threatening fast after growing weary of the daily, desperate calls of the members of his organization, We Count!

“My name is Jonathan Fried, and I am participating in Fast for Our Families. I am writing this in the evening of Day 2 of the fast. Five of us are fasting indefinitely, as long as it takes; our target is President Obama and our goal is to get him to use the legal authority he has, now, without Congress, to suspend the detention and deportation of immigrants with American families, those who have US citizen children and/or spouses. This is a message to my brothers and sisters in struggle in the immigrant rights movement, and with a special shout out to the members of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network around the country and of the Florida Immigrant Coalition around the state. Thanks to those of you who have sent messages of support. And I know that not everyone knows about the Fast yet, or understands what we are doing.

This decision to fast was not taken lightly. I was tired of getting phone calls from a mother, a father, a brother, a sister saying that their loved ones, their family, was taken away by ICE. Having no response to the question of what to do with their kids. I felt we had two options when it kept on happening. Try to help whatever we could, but accept that ICE was going to continue breaking apart families, one by one or develop a community response and fight back. To be clear, this tactic was not initiated by me, but by our members. I felt, however, that my participation, as an organizer and leader in the community, would strengthen it by bringing to bear the weight of my relationships. Putting my body on the line along with the others, in order to maximize the reach we could have.

For a number of years the noose has been tightening around the neck of immigrant communities. Yet never have things been worse than under the Obama Administration. He is escalating and systematizing the policies of attrition followed under the previous administration, trying to make life so miserable for immigrants that they leave. Increasing local law enforcement’s role in the deportation system; continuing 287g, including with vile racist sheriffs like Joe Arpaio, and expanding Secure Communities, under which persons are deported for the crime of being poor, brown and undocumented, all under the false guise of combating crime; increasing the rate of detentions and deportations of immigrants, using a vast system of government and private prisons, and even secret sub-offices; violent early morning raids on homes; worst of all, is the separating parents from their children.

I understand the political calculation: Show we’re tough on immigrants, and prove to the public that the administration is deserving of comprehensive immigration reform. First, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to get us there. Second, if it does, this strategy does guarantee that it will get us a mean-spirited, punitive immigration reform that will exclude thousands of undocumented persons and ensure further institutionalization of a repressive system that takes away all our rights.

Most urgently, the cost is too high. Now. It’s too painful. It’s too horrific. My friends and neighbors shouldn’t be collateral damage in a political scheme. Parents and youth ripped from their families is not an acceptable cost. Thousands of people marked and tracked with electronic shackles, living in fear of being taken away from their loved ones every time they report to ICE or its private contractors, is not an acceptable cost. Young people being deported to homelands they hardly remember is not an acceptable cost.

It is time to say to President Obama: This is on your watch.

This is our response – the fasters, the organizations involved in the Fast. Tomorrow day laborers will be joining us in a solidarity fast. Solidarity fasts are under way in New York and New Hampshire, and others will be occurring here in the coming days. Four young people are walking from Miami to Washington, DC to call for a stop to the separation of families and suspension of deportation of DREAMers in the Trail of DREAMs. Our compañer@s in Maricopa County and NDLON are organizing a demonstration on January 16 against Arpaio and the administration’s continued collaboration with him and his racist attacks on immigrants.

We are asking for solidarity fasts. This is the time. Let’s light a spark in this movement. Enough is enough!”

Jonathan Fried
WeCount!
Fast for Our Families
www.fastforfamilies.org
fastforfamilies@gmail.com

Jonathan Fried, grandson of Jewish immigrants, is originally from Swampscott, MA, and graduated from Friends World College (now Long Island University). He has lived in the former Yugoslavia and Guatemala and speaks Spanish fluently. For the last 35 years, 25 of them in South Florida, Jon has worked and participated in solidarity, community, immigrant and labor struggles with diverse organizations including the American Friends Service Committee, the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, UNITE/SEIU, the Center for Labor Studies at Florida International University, Florida Foster Care Review Project, Human Services Coalition and We Care. He is currently the founding Executive Director of WeCount!, a grassroots membership organization, with centers in Homestead and Cutler Bay, Florida, that fights for immigrant, worker and youth rights.

The FAST FOUR OUR FAMILIES AND THE TRAIL OF DREAMS is initially being led and supported by members of the The Florida Immigrant Coalition, including: We Count!, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, Students Working for Equal Rights (10 SWER chapters statewide), Haitian-American Youth of Tomorrow (HAYOT), Centro de Orientacion del Inmigrante (CODI), Farmworker Association of Florida, Palm Beach Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (and its member groups), Haitian Women of Miami, Latinamerican Coalition of the Treasure Coast, Voices for Justice, Sueno Americano, Miami Workers Center and others.

Haitians Impatient with Obama Over TPS

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Making Our Voices Heard at the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach

by Francesca Guerrier & Kim Ives

Some 50 Haitians and their supporters held a spirited demonstration in front of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach on Monday, Oct. 26 to demand that President Obama immediately grant Temporary Protected Status or TPS to some 35,000 undocumented Haitians currently in the US.

Obama was at the hotel for a fundraiser for Democratic Florida congressmen Alcee Hastings and Kendrick Meek, who is running for senator.

The demonstration was organized by the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition, Institute of Justice and Democracy (IJDH), Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and Free Haiti Now, all groups which had been expecting Obama to reverse the Bush administration’s denial of TPS to Haitians last December.

“We are all frustrated that more than nine months after President Obama’s inauguration Haitians still don’t have TPS despite the incredibly broad editorial and political support for it, including from the three South Florida Republicans in the US House of Representatives,” said Steve Forester, an immigration lawyer and long-time TPS advocate who presently represents the IJDH in Florida. “And we are doubly surprised that we have not yet gotten a response to our request to at least give people the dignity of the right to work while the administration continues, month after month, to review the propriety of granting TPS, which to us and every objective observer is a no-brainer, based on the four hurricanes and storms that hit Haiti in a one-month period a year ago.”

TPS, which briefly can be granted by executive order to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who are temporarily unable to return to their nation because of a natural disaster, armed conflict, or other extraordinary circumstances. Since it was established in 1990, TPS has been granted to immigrants from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Burundi, Somalia, Montserrat, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Liberia.

Since January, many demonstrations demanding TPS for Haitians have been held in Florida and other states. Over 300 people from Florida and the Northeast traveled by bus to Washington, DC to demonstrate in front of the White House on Jun. 3, and many more turned out for a second demonstration there on Sep. 16.

On Sep. 18, Free Haiti Now, FLIC and Haitian Women in Miami (FANM) held a vigil at Virginia Key Beach on Key Biscayne to call for TPS and to pay respect to the many Haitian refugees who have died at sea. Performing at the protest were Miami artists DJ Khaled, Mecca aka Grimo, and Grindmode. Other celebrities also supported the action and the TPS call including M1 from Dead Prez, Black Dada, Ace Hood, NBA superstar Hudonis Haslem, and three artists from the group Poe Boy: Billy Blue, Brisco and Flo Rida.

“We need the administration to grant TPS or at least, while they are considering it, to grant work permits on a case by case basis to TPS-deserving non-criminal Haitians who desperately need work permits, drivers licenses and the ability to feed their families, pay electricity bills, and send remittances to Haiti which can support up to ten times that number, thereby increasing Haiti’s security and our own,” Forester said.

On Oct. 26, the demonstrators were restricted to a sidewalk across Collins Avenue from the Fontainebleau. The area was heavily guarded by U.S. Secret Service, Miami Beach police and private security guards. The police harassed demonstrators who sought to take pictures of the protest from the street.

Further down the sidewalk, a group of about 100 anti-immigrant “teabaggers” protested Obama’s presence in Miami with absurd signs like “Go back to Kenya” and “Go back to Indonesia” and “Obama = Comunism.” (sic)

Among those who came out to the TPS demonstration were a few Central American farmworkers from Homestead, about 25 Haitians from West Palm Beach, and FLIC staff members.

In March, former Haitian-American unionist Patrick Gaspard, now Obama’s Director for Political Affairs, traveled to Miami to soothe and reassure Haitian leaders that the administration would soon act on TPS. The reprieve he brokered has now expired.

“As far as we are concerned, regarding Haiti, the Obama administration is maintaining the same status quo as the Bush immigration policy,” Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition president Jean-Robert Lafortune told the Miami Herald.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.

Miami City Commission Urges President Obama To Grant Temporary Protected Status To Haitians In The United States

Excellent news–hopefully more cities throughout Florida and the nation will pass similar resolutions!

http://www.sflcn.com/story.php?id=6535

MIAMI – City of Miami Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez, backed unanimously by the City of Miami Commission, passed a resolution Thursday, June 11, 2009, urging President Barrack Obama to grant temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States.

“We are urgently calling on President Obama to do the right thing,” Sanchez said.

TPS suspends the deportation of undocumented Haitians already in the U.S. and allows the granting of work permits that can last up to 18 months.

“As a proud member of Miami’s Haitian community, and an advocate for the humanitarian treatment of all people, I am pleased that Chairman Sanchez and the City Commission is poised to set an example for the rest of the country to follow,” said Francesca Menes of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. Menes added, “Haiti has been devastated–environmentally and economically–and Temporary Protected Status would help Haitians here and abroad.”

Haitian workers in the United States support relatives back home with remittances to Haiti from the United States estimated to be more than $1 billion.

tps

“Hurricane season is upon us and the nation of Haiti has barely recovered from last season’s devastating storms. It is imperative that we grant temporary protected status to Haitians in the U.S., so their work here can help fuel the rebuilding back home,” Sanchez said.