Haitians deserve protected status

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Haitians deserve protected status

Post by admin » Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:38 am

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinio ... ws-opinion

IMMIGRATION

Haitians deserve protected status
By Steven David Forester

September 25, 2006

An Aug. 24 editorial rightly asked President Bush to grant Haitians temporary protected status. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings champions it; Jim Davis supports it; Charlie Crist should, too.

In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch hit Nicaragua and Honduras. On Jan. 5, 1999, the United States granted their nationals here temporary protected status, temporarily suspending deportations and granting permission to work and travel abroad. It's been renewed six times, most recently in March, due to still-incomplete recovery from Mitch.

Salvadorans have enjoyed TPS since March 19, 2001, due to earthquakes; it was renewed most recently in June.

But Haitians, despite qualifying due to disasters claiming thousands of lives, are still being deported. They deserve equal treatment.

TPS is appropriate when disaster disrupts living conditions. Haiti more than qualifies: In May 2004, massive flooding in Haiti killed 4,000 and left 300,000 displaced. In September 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne buried Gonaives; it killed 2,500, injured 3,000, destroyed 4,000 homes, damaged thousands of others, left tens of thousands homeless and hundreds of thousands without food or water. Tropical Storm Alpha and Hurricanes Wilma, Ivan and Dennis caused more deaths, damage and homelessness.

Haiti has recovered from none of these disasters. But unlike Nicaraguans, Hondurans and Salvadorans, Haitians have never been granted TPS.

TPS can also be based on civil turmoil and violence, which have paralyzed Haiti for years. But still no TPS.

People want to stay in Haiti. President Rene Preval is popular and addressing Haiti's problems. He needs our support -- not deportees and fewer remittances.

Haiti is hugely dependent on remittances -- nearly a billion dollars a year sent home by Haitians here, far exceeding foreign aid. Haitians work two or even three jobs just to keep sending money home to needy relatives.

But deportation ends remittances, causing desperation -- which leads to emigration. Emigration taxes U.S. Coast Guard, Border Patrol, detention, judicial and social resources. So any politician favoring Haiti deportations is being hypocritical.

The same applies to "protecting our children." Deportation-threatened Haitians have U.S.-born children who shouldn't have to choose between their parents and their birthright. Family values apply to Haitian-American kids, too.

Preval's goal is stability, jobs and recovery. Helping Haiti helps us protect our borders. TPS keeps the remittances flowing; deportations cause unemployment and despair. This was a big reason for granting TPS to Central Americans.

And there's the basic question of equal treatment, of fairness. President Bush rightly renewed TPS for Nicaraguans, Hondurans and Salvadorans, because deporting them isn't safe. Neither is deporting Haitians.

The president should end the double standard and hypocrisy, protect our children and borders, and give Haitians TPS and equal treatment.

Steven David Forester is senior policy advocate for Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami.

Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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Post by admin » Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:38 am

See comments by "Curious in NJ".

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