An Endorsement of the NJIPN Conference

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An Endorsement of the NJIPN Conference

Post by admin » Thu Jan 12, 2006 2:35 pm

[quote]It is no secret that Haitian immigrants and refugees have gotten a bad rap from the US government over the years. They have been interdicted on the high seas, denied safe haven and protection, suffered from arbitrary rules and procedures in violation of the laws of the US and otherwise abused. Since 2001 when anti-immigrant forces launched a fierce assault on immigrants' rights and campaigned for a zero immigration policy, they have whipped up anti-immigrant hysteria by painting immigrants as the scourge of the earth.

Hysteric anti-immigrant voices are still on the offensive and last December they managed to push legislation through the House of Representatives to make the lives of both legal immigrants and their non-immigrant relatives extremely difficult in the US. The Sensenbrenner bill - named for its chief sponsor Rep. Sensenbrenner - proposes to penalize anyone who assists an undocumented person to live or remain in the US, by making it a criminal offense, an "aggravated felony" for immigration purposes. Today it only takes one "aggravated felony" to trigger measures that could strip an immigrant of his/her legal status and lead to deportation. Imagine the hurt and fear that could develop if the Sensenbrenner bill becomes the law on the land! The toll on Haitian families will be incalculable.

But it's not too late. Good people standing up together against such hysteria can counter with positive comprehensive immigration reform measures. That is why I am turning to you and urging you to take an active part in the conference of the NJ Immigration Policy Network on January 21. There will be many workshops addressing issues like the new drivers' license requirements, current laws and those under consideration, in-state college tuition efforts. We will also have a workshop on Haitian immigration issues such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Most importantly we will be standing together to develop a strong pro-immigrant movement in NJ. The meeting will be held at the Rutgers University Labor Education Center, 50 Labor Center Way in New Brunswick. To offset expenses, an admission fee of $30 is requested, but if you cannot afford it, you could choose to pay only $15 or even $10 if you present a valid student ID. What is extremely important is that you come to listen, take part in the debate, make sure that your presence counts at a time when NJ has just elected a new Governor and much of the nation is looking at developments in NJ for a sign of things to come.

You can find out more about the meeting by calling Guy Antoine at the NJ Immigration Policy Network (973-621-0031) or visit the web site of the Network ( http://www.njipn.org ). I'll be at the meeting and I am looking forward to your presence. If you do come to the meeting as a result of this invitation, I would enjoy greeting you personally.



Best
Regards,

Jocelyn McCalla
Executive Director
National Coalition for Haitian Rights
jmccalla@nchr.org


P.S. Let us not let fear guide our lives. Let's take it back from the fear-mongers. Immigrants and citizens standing together have history on their side.[/quote]

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Post by admin » Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:58 pm

Dear Jocelyn,

Thank you for this powerful reminder of the reasons we need to speak for the rights of all immigrants. Haitian immigrants, in particular, deserve our special attention because they may presently be the most at risk of losing significant rights and privileges, that some of us may have taken for granted. Most Haitians I have talked to have yet to realize the great disruption that may soon be visited upon our community. Hopefully, this January 21 conference will open many eyes and provide some tools to help us counter the current anti-immigrant propaganda with a powerful pro-immigrant message of our own that our elected U.S. representatives will feel compelled to heed.

Guy S. Antoine
Haitian Outreach Program
New Jersey Immigration Policy Network

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