Finally–#TPS for #Haiti…#adelante con la lucha! #immigration
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.
Yesterday FLIC members and pro-immigrant allies from across Miami-Dade county, with our partners at the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board (CRB) and City of Miami CRB, came together for a countywide immigration reform summit to “unite our diverse communities around agreed-upon priorities for legislative reform that will uphold our common commitment to equal treatment and due process for all immigrants,” in the words of CRB Chairman Harold Vieux. Issues discussed included enhancing safety and security, providing for legalization and a pathway to citizenship, protecting children, re-unifying families and protecting workers.
Speakers included Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of FAMN (and FLIC Board chair), Cheryl Little, Executive Director at Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Jonathan Fried, Executive Director of We Count!, as well as Felipe Matos of SWER and FLIC’s own Maria Rodriguez. Advocates like Police Chief John Timoney, himself an immigrant, spoke out against 287(g) agreements that deputize local police to act as immigration enforcement agents, taking precious resources away from fighting dangerous crime. There was incredible support in the room for immigration reform, and much unity around our priorities.
The overarching message was that we need immigration reform now–for our families and our communities. We cannot wait. “Under the current administration, comprehensive immigration reform is something that our president, the White House and Congress can deliver,'” said Jean-Robert Lafortune, chairman of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition. “Immigrants can’t live on hope alone.”
To make sure that this message is heard throughout the state, and in Washington, FLIC and our allies are planning a variety of public events throughout the fall. Please stay tuned for more information, and add your voice to the resounding majority in Florida calling for real change–NOW!
Note: Our amazing communications intern, Mariana Barbosa, interviewed her fellow interns. Get to know them by checking out these brief bios, below, and be sure to say hello when you stop by FLIC or FAMN, in Little Haiti’s Dessalines Center!
Joshua Adams was born on September 21st, 1993 in Toronto, Canada. He currently lives in Miami Shores. He attends MAST Academy (Maritime and Science Technology) where he is a part of the Young Democrats, Ocean Conservation Club and the Social Studies Honor Society. He’s a new intern for Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director of the coalition. In his spare time he enjoys skating, surfing, playing football, playing Xbox Live and hanging out with friends. He hopes to attend USC or UCLA and become a sports physician. “I’m really looking forward to a summer of hard work, but a summer filled with great reward as well,” says Joshua.
Mariana Barbosa was born on April 16th, 1993 in Sao Paolo, Brazil. She lives in Kendall and attends Design and Architecture Senior High. She is part of the Architecture strand, a member of the National Honor Society, and the French Club. For the past year she has worked with The Children’s Trust in their Youth Advisory Committee. She interns for Katherine Gorell, FLIC’s Communications Coordinator. Her hobbies include volunteering, sailing, reading, yoga and going out with friends. She hopes to attend the University of Miami’s School of Architecture and become an Architect. “This opportunity given to us will aid us into becoming committed and passionate activists who see something in society that must be improved or changed, and give us the will power to do something about it. The work we are doing together as a team will not only greatly impact our own lives, but the lives of others as well” she states.
Michelle Castel, a native of Miami, Florida, was born on January 6th, 1992. She now lives in Miami Shores and attends school at Booker T. Washington Senior High School. She is a part of Spicy Spinner, The School Band, and the Finance Academy. She interns for Francesca Menes, Community Organizer. She takes pleasure in reading, doing hair, photography and music. She hopes to be an international marketer in the future. “I hope to gain more experience in the work force and learn as much as I can on the job” states Michelle.
Roderick Davis was born on April 10th 1992 in Opa Locka, Florida. He now lives in Carol City, where he attends Carol City High School. Roderick is an active member of the Future Leaders of America. He is working for Subhash Kateel, Community Organizer. His hobbies include writing poetry and playing football for the Carol City Chiefs, but he longs to be a graphic designer. “This summer I hope to educate, as well as be educated on the rights of immigrants. I have high expectations for this summer and I know for a fact that this will be a great learning experience” he said.
Jeffrey Jullot was born on July 18th, 1993 in Miami, Florida. He now lives in Homestead, where he is a student at South Dade Senior High. He is a part of 5,000 Role Models and FBLA. He is a We Count! intern, and will be working on their campaign for restorative justice this summer. In his spare time he enjoys playing basketball, football, reading books, and writing poetry. When he grows up, he hopes to be a successful businessman. “I hope to learn more about the situations in our community and how we can help change them. I’m excited about getting to know everybody and figure out how we can put our heads together so we can make great changes in our community” he said.
Leudy De Los Santos was born on September 22nd, 1992 in the Virgin Islands. She lives in Miami, Florida where she is a student at Miami Jackson Senior High School. She is a member of the Honor Society, Sophomore Board, basketball and softball team. She interns for Danna Magliore at FAMN (Haitian Women of Miami). Her hobbies include basketball, watching movies, dancing and playing video games. “One of the quotes I live for is: “I’ve been through a lot of stuff, but Imma keep my head up like my nose is bleeding” by Lil’ Wayne. This quote made me realize that everything I’ve been through in the past stays in the past. I’m going to life for today, and then accomplish my dreams and become successful in life. This quote is going to help me overcome the obstacles that I may have in this program this summer.”
Bryan Ruiz was born on March 19th, 1993 in Miami, Florida. He lives in Homestead, where he attends School at Robert Morgan Educational Center. He works with We Count! around issues of restorative justice. His hobbies include lifting weights, playing keyboard and guitar, and jogging in the mornings. He plans to become a pilot for an airline when he grows up. “I would like to learn from FLIC how to better understand as to why people act the way they act, such as, racism, gender and power. What I’m most excited about is being able to meet new people and expanding my knowledge from what I am going to learn from the staff. Also, the trip to New York City is going to be REALLY FUN” says Bryan.
Daniela Sosa was born on January 7th, 1993 in Havana, Cuba. She lives in Kendall and is a student at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High. She is a member of the Cambridge Global Studies Academy, the Ecology Club, Global Arts Club, and the Social Studies Honor Society. Her hobbies include reading and enjoying movie nights with her friends. She wants to be a pediatrician when she grows up. This summer she’ll be helping organize events. “I hope to make life long friends while doing something that can change people’s lives for the better,” said Daniela.
Daiyaan Toffie was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He lives in Dadeland and is a student at South Miami Senior High. He is on the basketball team and is a Dade County coach for Ludlam Elementary. His job entails being an organizer–sending e-mails, making calls etc. and interacting with FLIC members and allies. In his spare time he plays basketball, hangs out with friends, watches sports and goes shopping. “When I grow up I hope I can help change the world and become president of team operations of a professional sports team. I’m excited about the new things I will be learning at FLIC. My overview of FLIC is an amazing organization and willing to help anybody,” Daiyaan said.
Hulya Miclisse-Polat was born on May 27th, 1993 in Montreal, Canada. She lives in Homestead and attends Homestead Senior High School. Hulya is a majorette for her school band, Women of Tomorrow Secretary, a member of DFYIT and the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism. She is an intern and school organizer for We Count!. She hangs out with friends, shops, reads mystery and drama books, and volunteers. She hopes to become an important leader in her community who is very involved when she grows up. “I am very excited about the program; it will definitely be a memorable and beneficial experience for me. It will expand my knowledge for social and restorative justice–issues that are happening in my environment. Together, we will be able to learn things that we cannot get from a classroom, prepare for the real world, and become great leaders one day” says Hulya.
Excellent news–hopefully more cities throughout Florida and the nation will pass similar resolutions!
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.
“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.
Father Jean-Juste was beloved by many and is dearly missed. Please join us in remembering his many contributions to the struggle for social justice in Haiti.
From the article: “Father Gerald Jean Juste risked the guns of the US Marines, UN troops, Haitian coup d’etat police, the dangers of their bullets, arrests and censure to walk with, and suffer with the disenfranchised and vilified residents in the populous neighborhoods of Haiti. He would not let the people stand and suffer alone.”
On May 13th, FLIC leaders from Miami, Palm Beach, Orlando and Jacksonville, as well as national allies from the Quixote Center, National Immigration Forum, SEIU, TransAfrica Forum, The Episcopal Church and Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, made their voices heard in Washington.
They met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security and The White House, as well as U.S. Representatives from Florida, including Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings, Corrine Brown, Alan Grayson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, as well as Maxine Waters (CA). We met with both Florida senators, Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, as well as Dick Durbin (IL) and Charles Schumer (NY).
The same day, at least nine Haitians died off the coast of Florida, near Boynton Beach. Pregnant women and children were among the boat’s passengers. This tragedy was a sad reminder of how desperate conditions still are in Haiti, and how urgently Haitians in the U.S. need TPS.
For more information about TPS, please go to: www.tpsnow.org
Please urge President Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States. A toll-free number for the White House comment line has been set up: 1-800-906-5989 (Call time: Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm EST).
Since its incorporation in November 2003, FLIC has experienced tremendous growth. Below is a snapshot of what the members groups of the Florida Immigrant Coalition are working on throughout the state in 2009.
You can join the efforts by supporting the issue campaigns or by participating in the local coalitions:
LEGALIZATION: As part of a consultative process that included surveys, small group work and voting at the annual membership meeting, FLIC member groups endorsed legalization as the primary effort. This means we will be educating our members, allies and decisionmakers about the need for reform that values immigration as an opportunity and not a threat and that respects families and workers–both immigrant and U.S.-born.
- How to plug in: contact Juan Pablo (firstname.lastname@example.org) about organizing for legislative visits or building your organizing circle and reaching out to allies.
ENFORCEMENT: Misguided and heavy-handed enforcement of broken immigration laws, including police enforcement of immigration comes at a great cost to our coffers, public safety and civil liberties. FLIC member groups are working in six counties to dissuade local police to divert their public safety missions to immigration functions. FLIC member groups are educating immigrants, documenting abuses and beginning visitation programs to detention centers.
- How to plug in: contact Subhash (email@example.com) about meeting with your local sheriff and submitting records release requests, conducting “train the trainers” know your rights presentations or visiting detainees at the Broward Transitional Center.
ACCESS TO COLLEGE: Students Working for Equal Rights (S.W.E.R.) came out of FLIC’s commitment to youth leadership. This effort seeks to educate students, parents and educational professionals about access to college, incentivizing participation through an internship and scholarship fund, as well as organizing to reduce barriers at the academic institutional level at the state and federal legislative level.
- How to plug in: contact Jose Luis (firstname.lastname@example.org) about joining the advisory body or supporting the upcoming statewide student tour.
WAGE THEFT: The South Florida Wage Theft Task Force is one of several coalitions statewide that seeks to support workers who do not get paid for their work. These efforts seek to create a systemic enforcement mechanism that bolsters the rights of all workers while recovering their lost wages.
- How to plug in: contact Maria (email@example.com) about supporting a Miami-Dade ordinance to include worker rights so that a local human rights board can provide wage enforcement.
RELIEF FOR HAITIANS: Haitians deserve relief from deportation to miserable conditions by either a temporary protected status (TPS) or deferred enforced detention(DED).
- How to plug in: contact Francesca (Francesca@floridaimmigrant.org) to help bring the reality of Haitian detainees to national attention by reaching out to national allies.
Join Our Local Coalitions Throughout Florida!
FLIC is proud to announce that we have kicked off our campaign to Stop the ICE raids and win just and humane immigration reform. This strategy includes legislative, community organizing and direct action components, which are being planned and implemented by regional coalitions in Orlando, Miami, Palm Beach and Manasota. Please join us!