There are approximately 560,000 ordered deportees in the US, why are only the 30,000 from Haiti being SELECTED for enforcement priority and being highlighted in the media by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE")? (See, US set to deport more than 30,000 Haitians AP, Feb. 17, 2009, and ICE Fugitive Operations Program, Nov. 19, 2008).
Haitians pose no threat and are mostly providing for their families both in the US and in Haiti.
"According to a study released (Feb. 4, 2009) by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, 73 percent of almost 97,000 people arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fugitive operations teams between 2003 and early 2008 were illegal immigrants without criminal records. MPI's report, "Collateral Damage: An Examination of ICE's Fugitive Operations Program," says the National Fugitive Operations Program, a federal program established in 2003 to apprehend fugitive aliens who pose a threat to the community, has only "succeeded in apprehending the easiest targets, not the most dangerous fugitives. The ICE program obtained big funding increases from Congress -- more so than any other program ICE runs -- after immigration officials told lawmakers they would concentrate on rounding up the most dangerous criminals and terrorism suspects. Over the past five years, program funding has totaled to more than $625 million. But the MPI report shows that the agency abandoned its stated mission to go after dangerous fugitives and instead targeted noncriminal undocumented workers -- the "low-hanging fruit." (See, Immigration raids target noncriminals.)
|Evelyn, a Haitian immigrant, wears a permanent tracking device while she awaits a decision from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on whether she will be deported back to Haiti or allowed to stay with her 5-year-old daughter, who was born in the U.S. (SANDRA C. ROA/NYT INSTITUTE) - See For Haitian Immigrants, Hurricanes Complicate Deportation Cases NYT, Jan. 9, 2009 ******************|
It seems like the sort of orchestrated fear that drove US policy decisions of the eight years of the Bush Administration. If that's not the case, what do our detractors want to do with the selected media release of these figures of Haitian deportees? For, if, over the years, perhaps a span of 20-years, 30,000 Haitians have been ordered deported by U.S. immigration judges, and that number is accurate, reflecting those who have not, in the interim, adjusted their status, passed away or otherwise returned to Haiti, why does Obama's Homeland Security feel it must make it a priority to hunt down, apprehend, incarcerate and deport Haitian asylum seekers now, to storm ravaged, famine-stricken Haiti in contravention to international and US national refugee laws for providing safe haven, right to life, security of person, equality under the law and to seek and receive asylum?
To further contextualize this treatment of the Haitian deportee question, one would need answers to questions such as: How many others, from different nationalities, have been ordered deported and why aren't their figures being revealed by the media now? How many illegals from Eastern European countries, European countries, Latin American countries, Asian countries, et al, have been similarly ordered, by U.S. Federal immigration judges, to be deported - 300,000, 200,000, 10,000? How many in comparison to the numbers for Haiti?
According to ICE's own figures, at the end of FY 2008, there were approximately 560,000 fugitive alien cases. That means the 30,000 Haitian deportees are a very small part, about 5% of this overall 560,000 number of the total ordered deported - fugitive alien cases. So, why are only the Haitian figures being segregated and trumpeted by the media?
We know that Haitians are disparagingly treated in relations to other nationalities, like the Cubans who are automatically given political asylum and never deported, or like the 260,000 Salvadorans, 82,000 Hondurans, and 5000 that Washington granted disaster relief (TPS) and just renewed their protected status again in 2008. Or, even Jamaicans, are not deported who have been ordered to be deported because Jamaica's been given a moratorium.
Jamaica has the highest gang and murder rate in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic (DR) is one of the most militarized Caribbean nations, with great income disparities and gross human rights abuse. 90% of the Dominican Republic (DR)'s agricultural worker are Haitians, with up to one million stateless, with no rights even if born in the DR and the majority held in slave-like plantation conditions. Yet, because foreigners and the super wealthy ruling Oligarchs of these countries legally own most of the wealth, the corporate media and Internationals, play down the poverty and inequities in these Caribbean nations and give them a very good image for tourism and as places for stable economic "development" investments. (See: Comparing crime, poverty and violence in the rest of the Hemisphere to Haiti).
There are four times more homicides per capital, more violent crimes, murders and human rights abuses in the Dominican Republic than in Haiti. But, it is the Dominican half of the Island of Haiti that tourists flock to because the US does not keep a perpetual travel warning against going to the Dominican Republic. Haiti is no-one's "client state" per se and is no traditional colonial preserve, either as a US territory or with a Queen or King in Europe to bow to. Despite the poverty and misery in Haiti, unlike most of the Caribbean and Latin America, the rural Haitian peasants and population own their lands in general and are not relegated to be maids, butlers or subjugated gofers in their own countries and for Eurocentric or foreign-owned tourist havens due to neocolonialism/Western imported Bourgeoisie Freedom/democracy - where genocide, exploitation and tyranny co-exists with immense freedoms, individual rights and liberties. (See, "Does the Western economic model and calculation of economic wealth fit Haiti, fit Dessalines' idea of wealth distribution?No" and Haiti's Riches). Beginning with the endless Independence Debt (1825 to 1947) it had to pay, Haiti has traditionally been fleeced, plundered, discriminated against by the US/Euros and kept contained-in-poverty precisely because of its independence. (See, Rich countries use trade deals to seize food from the world's hungriest people).
What will it say about the Obama administration if Obama's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) insist on enforcing these 30,000 orders in terms of Haitian nationals, especially if there are greater numbers of other nationalities, similarly ordered deported, who don't have strife or storm ravages in their countries but who are NOT being singled out for enforcement of deportation orders by Obama's Department of Homeland Security. Wouldn't such inhumane actions on the part of Obama's administration be but a continuation and an enabling of the sort of 2004 unnatural interference of the Bush administration and US's proxy MINUSTAH /UN troops that virtually wiped out the civil defense infrastructure of Haiti through supporting the Apaid/GuyPhilipe/Stanley Lucas 2004 coup d'etat?
With Haiti's civil defense infrastructure virtually wiped out by the last Bush Administration's regime change in Haiti, how could Obama stand on change, if his administration deports these 30,000 Haitians back to a place with no civil defense infrastructure partly due to US regime change interference?
The Obama administration has said it wants to assist in Haiti's development, stability, reconstruction and recovery from the natural disasters of September 2008, and we know that the Haitian Diaspora's $2 billion in annual remittances is the most effective and direct financial assistance to the poor in Haiti.
If President Obama is committed to Haiti's recovery and reconstruction, as he indicated, after the four hurricanes of 2006, the Obama administration will grant a stop to all deportations to Haiti. Just like Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Haiti has special circumstances and its nationals need to be treated accordingly. When the US deports an income earner to storm-ravaged Haiti, this decreases remittances and further impoverishes family members. Diaspora remittances are the most effective and direct aid to the Haitian poor in Haiti. The Obama administration should not continue the racist and discriminatory immigration policies of the Bush administration. If this report that 30,000 Haitians have been ordered deported has been cast out to to the media to set the stage for inducing public fear of more Black Haitians "littering" Florida's shores, to make it easier to summarily deny TPS and work permits or deferred enforced departure to Haitian nationals, as the case may require, we expect the Obama team to exercise more respect for the law, more civility and courage than the last U.S. Administrations. If it's been cast out to drum fear and it's a prelude to qualifying the granting of a stop to deportation so that there is a stop to deportations but no protected status is accorded to Haitians and they are allowed to remain here through the use of (the more-economically-beneficial-to-DHS's-refugee-operation-programs) electronic surveillance monitoring of Haitian deportees, we hope that the Obama Administration does not put such repugnant profit above the law but stops all deportations and grants work permits to these 30,000 deportees who are eligible, just as the US has done for other nationalities, similarly situated.
We urge the Obama administration to do the right thing and grant relief to the Haitians in the same manner the US has provided appropriate assistance to the Hondurans, Nicaraguans and El Salvadorans who got TPS after hurricanes and earthquakes in their countries. At this point, Haiti is in much worse shape than Central Americans were at the time they were granted TPS. The damage in Haiti is worst than three times the damage left after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Haitians in the United States should receive equal treatment and protection.
In 1997 President Clinton granted Haitian nationals deferred enforced departure from the United States. This did not induce mass migration of Haitians to the United States. Between December 19, 2008 and Dec. 9, 2008, DHS stopped deportations to Haiti, this did not cause mass migration of Haitians to the United States. The US has an interdiction process on the seas around Haiti that it put in place to stop fleeing Haitian refugees during the second Bush 2004 Coup D'etat. This interdiction procedure has worked for the US. Moreover, the concern that granting equal protection to Haitians as has been done for Central Americans and others, would cause mass migration of Haitians to the US, is selective and based on fear. US policymakers did not allow such a concern to prevail when Pres. Bush renewed TPS for the Central Americans in 2008.
Releasing the figures is fear orchestrated and fear projected by design. President Obama has said that fear should not be the engine that drives U.S. policy. The best way to address Haitians leaving Haiti for the US is for the US to follow policies that help lessen, not add to Haiti’s misery. US could further help with authentic aid, reciprocal trade, investment in agricultural production in Haiti and, by not sending back income earners whose $2billion yearly remittances to Haiti is the most direct aid Haiti receives. Moreover, hunting down, separating and sending back mothers, fathers with US born children and families to a country that is unable to receive them, not only is inhumane and unequal protection, it does not even meet ICE National Fugitive Operations Program's own policy enforcement priorities and procedures.
US laws qualify Haiti for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in the form of a grant of TPS with a specification to stop ALL deportations and provide work permits to Haitian nationals. We ask all those who stand for equal treatment under the laws and in solidarity with the people of Haiti to write, fax, call and e-mail the White House (202-456-1111, Fax 202-456-2461, ), and the Obama Team (Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security at 202-282-8495, to request a stop to all deportations to Haiti and a grant of work permits. (See, HLLN SAMPLE LETTER Asking President Obama to Assist Haiti's Recovery Efforts by Granting Haitian Nationals TPS).
Marguerite "Ezili Dantò" Laurent, Esq.
President, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network ("HLLN")