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Hundreds rally to protest planned deportation of 30,000 Haitians

May 15, 2009

by Francesca Guerrier, Haiti Liberte

Haitians rally in Pompano Beach for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) instead of deportation for 30,000 of their countrymen. The remittances sent home to Haiti from the U.S. comprise nearly 30 percent of Haiti’s economy. The NAACP is pressing President Obama to grant TPS.
Haitians rally in Pompano Beach for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) instead of deportation for 30,000 of their countrymen. The remittances sent home to Haiti from the U.S. comprise nearly 30 percent of Haiti’s economy. The NAACP is pressing President Obama to grant TPS.
Pompano Beach, Fla. – Over 500 demonstrators gathered in front of the remote immigrant detention jail known as the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida, last month to demand that the Obama administration stop the threatened deportation of some 30,000 Haitians back to their strife and storm battered country.

The rally was boisterous but peaceful and well-organized. The crowd demanded TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for Haitians, which was previously denied by the Bush administration. TPS has been granted in recent years to nine countries plagued by war or natural disasters: El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan. It allows refugees from those countries to live and work legally in the U.S. The designation is effective for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 18 months.

After four storms in August and September 2008 brought widespread death and destruction to Haiti, the U.S. government suspended Haitian deportations for three months. But expulsions resumed after Dec. 5, sending dozens of Haitians back to their homeland since then. Between January and December 2008, 1,024 Haitians were repatriated, said Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.

In February, U.S. immigration officials announced that 30,299 Haitians were subject to immediate deportation back to Haiti.

Jonel Lemy, a Haitian-American lawyer with the Haitian Lawyers Association, told the Sun Sentinel that he has seen an increase in deportation cases in the last six months, even taking the three month reprieve into account.

“Arrests are up,” Lemy said. “People are being arrested as they drop their kids off at school or on their way to work.”

Lending visibility to the rally were hip-hop star Wyclef Jean and his younger sister Melky Jean, who is also a singer. She performed a passionate song in Kreyol and said that TPS for Haitians was “only fair.” She founded and helps run the CARMA Foundation, which provides shoes and other relief to poor children in Haiti.

Farah Juste, another well-known Haitian singer and activist, took the microphone after Melky to lead the crowd in an improvised song in Kreyol: “Prezidan Obama, se TPS nou mande.” (“President Obama, we demand TPS.”)

Lavarice Gaudin, a leader with the long-standing grassroots organization Veye Yo based in Miami’s Little Haiti, addressed the hundreds of demonstrators on behalf of the group’s founder, Father Gérard Jean Juste, who couldn’t attend the rally due to poor health. Lavarice telephoned Jean-Juste, who then addressed the crowd by phone, which received him with warmth and enthusiasm.

“What do we want?” Jean-Juste asked. “TPS,” the crowd loudly responded. “When do we want it?” Jean-Juste continued. “NOW!” the crowd came back.

Other speakers and singers communed with the crowd, expressing solidarity with the Haitians held in the nearby detention center. FANM’s Marleine Bastiene asked Wyclef why he had felt compelled to attend a rally that was not in his schedule.

“When I found out this [rally] was happening, I decided to come and ask President Obama to stop deportations to Haiti,” he replied. “Even though he’s dealing with the economic crisis we are facing, Haiti is in extreme crisis, he has to act immediately to stop all deportations to Haiti; otherwise they will have huge problems in the island which will have repercussions back in the U.S. ultimately.”

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. – Photo: Sandra C. Roa, New York Times Institute
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. – Photo: Sandra C. Roa, New York Times Institute
Of the 30,000 Haitians with deportation orders against them, 600 are in detention centers and 260 are allowed to stay at home and in their communities, although their movements are monitored with ankle bracelet transmitters.

Haitian President René Préval, who has also asked Washington to grant TPS to Haitians in the U.S., has effectively blocked deportations by having his government refuse to grant would-be deportees travel documents.

“President Obama, the time has arrived to right this wrong,” said Marleine Bastien to the crowd.

The world capitalist crisis and soaring jobless rate in the U.S. put great pressure on Obama to deport undocumented workers, as right-wing politicians urge. But Obama has lots of political capital to lose with Haitian-Americans, one of his power bases, if their undocumented compatriots are deported. Conversely, his administration gains lots of easy political capital if it grants TPS, a very short-term measure which does nothing to address the fundamental injustice of U.S. immigration restrictions and their enforcement.

Clearly, many in the crowd had high hopes that their continued mobilization would sway the Obama administration to grant the TPS that the Bush administration denied. “We will continue to protest and take our message to Washington, and we expect President Obama to support us,” lawyer Jonel Lemy said.

© Haiti Liberte, a newspaper distributed in Haiti, France, Canada and the U.S. and headquartered in Brooklyn, encourages reprints. Email editor@haitiliberte.com.

19 thoughts on “Hundreds rally to protest planned deportation of 30,000 Haitians

  1. Tammy

    Every time there is a horrible storm the U.S. allows
    foreigners in this country.
    Problem is it’s always a big hassle to get them to leave.
    The U.S. is full—-GET OUT!

    Reply
  2. AmericanPartiot

    Yes, the U.S. is full, the economy is in the toilet, millions of American citizens are jobless, homeless and hungry. We cannot become the world’s “hotel”, “employment office”, we cannot bare the financial burden put upon us to support foreign immigrants (legal or illegal). Our country is hit with natural disasters of our own (remember Katrina?), and its taking years to recover from those.

    These people need to understand that their life, health, education, etc. is NOT our responsibility and they shouldn’t be here “demanding” anything from the U.S. Go home and work to make your own country a better place to live, we owe you nothing. Sorry it that sounds harsh, but America is broke and we cannot keep supporting you.

    Go home and take your children with you, they are your responsibility.

    Reply
  3. June

    How about sending these people to other Caribbean islands? We cannot take care of the world. I think even if we were in a deep depression like the one that occurred in our nation in the 30s, we would still have illegals, refugees, legal immigrants, H-1B visa holders and every other group that our government could squeeze in. We must keep after our representatives to stop this invasion of our nation, but with primarily illegal immigration being so profitable, it will be difficult. However, we can’ give up. If we do, we’re lost.

    Reply
  4. FloridaMike

    These Haitians are much of the time Loud and obnoxious. The taxi drivers in miami beach block the sidewalks and move only when told to do so. They piss in the streets and leave food for the birds laying about. They look down on American blacks because the Haitians don’t believe they have fought for their independence as people from Haiti have. Are you getting the picture? Foreign nationals demanding anything from us has led me to a “Deport Them All” position.

    Reply
  5. Bren

    Join millions of US citizens by registering/joining this FREE site now!!!

    http://www.numbersusa.com

    Once registered, you are able to get contact information for all of your local officials, and every single politician in Washington!!

    Plus, you can send faxes for FREE—-they are already typed up and ready to go—-You just need to click your mouse to send.

    NO AMNESTY!!! NO DREAM ACT!!!

    Enforce our laws NOW!!

    Close secure the borders NOW!!

    E-Verify passed throughout the country NOW!!

    End automatic citizenship for children born on US soil to ILLEGALS NOW!!

    Reply
  6. Amanda

    ok, I understand the logic behind what you all are saying about how it is unfair to us to have to support people of other countries. However, immigration law crosses the line when it starts splitting up families. Did you see the picture above of the woman with the tracking device, waiting to find out of she has to leave while her 5 year old daughter (born in the U.S.) stays? Besides, all these people are asking for is temporary residence because of the situation in their home country. It would be the humane thing to do. You may not understand because you have not been in the same situation. What would you do if you were them?

    Reply
  7. karen

    Really if you want to complain about people being immigrants and coming from other countries then lets go way back and deport everyone who is NOT NATIVE AMERICAN… It is the US Governments created problem and the US Government needs to deal with the situation in a respectable way. Deporting people is just a quick fix, a copout, and evasion of responsibility. Greed and oppression causes the problems. (Oh I guesss if everyone is living in the US then there is no more poor countires to rip off and take advantage of, put up another polluting factory or outsourcing paying $2 a day)If the US Government was not as fixated on spending resources to “deport” and putting fear into people maybe there sould be a workable solution for all and a better way to utilze resources for all. What solution is reasonable by breaking up families and sending people back to nothing???

    Reply
  8. Ruthschild war

    You it is always a pleasure to hear some ignorant stupid people with no thought of their own trying to blog. Listen if the USA in the world bank would stay away from us we will be better off ; because you tying to tell the Haitian people to go home , you need to start doing some research instead of being such a prick, understand Haitian are do not want to be some useful idiot OK; if you don’t know you better ask some body, talking about cab driver the reason why you don’t like taxi driver it is because you never have your taxi fair, you just a hater i hope the KKK hang your stupid ass on south beach. I which you were understand what you was talking about ,if following the web you would have seeing all black people in the world have the same problem because USA, UK, Rome, France,an Canada.politician creates this because they just is simple as you are.!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  9. Ruthschild war

    hi Karen. I agree with you but what’s really going on right now it’s only politic will remain politic until the American people wake up and smells thee coffee with the rest of the world ; because if you go way back to the year1910 that’s when American lost control of this country and the world bank take over. so in other to make money they have to creates crises and panic + other major disaster in the world, some in intelligent mind would ask why? the answer is self interest , unlike the credit card company put you in to slavery this the idea of the world bank, every last one of us is a sheep to them which mean slave; also the biggest set of confusion is religion to manipulate the mass, that is to sure you some people have no idea what is going on in their own backyard there is no way they would know what’s going in the world.

    Reply
  10. Ruthschild war

    Amanda you sound like you have no since at all. go back to the poll if you have anything left in you.>>>>>>> i don’t think you know the history of this country. maybe you just a pinderjo loqua. all you’ll whose taking about Haitian people. don’t know how to even watch you’ll bottom so get real.

    Reply
  11. PB

    How about sending these people to other Caribbean islands? We cannot take care of the world. I think even if we were in a deep depression like the one that occurred in our nation in the 30s, we would still have illegals, refugees, legal immigrants, H-1B visa holders and every other group that our government could squeeze in. We must keep after our representatives to stop this invasion of our nation, but with primarily illegal immigration being so profitable, it will be difficult. However, we can’ give up. If we do, we’re lost.

    Reply
  12. HAITIAN_15

    First and foremost, this land we call the U.S. is full of immigrants, unless you are native american then you are an immigrant. Its only right that we continue to accept the people that urge for change, freedom, and etc.

    Reply
  13. black

    First of all for those people on this website who said haitians dont need to come hear need to be quite its not up to yall its up to the all mighty heavenly father god.
    And plus they might as well let them in america is full of mexicans jumping the boarder everyday and do you really see the government doing somepthing no. but i bet you if mexico was full of blacks there would be no way of them jumping the boarder.

    Reply
  14. 1possibility

    A really great book about Haiti is called Written in Blood. This will help with understanding Haiti’s history for those that are conscious or at least seeking to be.
    It is interesting how quick we are as humans(or sheep) to judge and evaluate using our emotions rather than some form of critical thinking to evaluate a situation. Learn something about the history. Know where to find a place on the map, Know something related to economics. Know what language is spoken. Find out how the U.S. and allies have contributed to current deplorable conditions. If little or no knowledge is known, then consider being intellectually humble until you do.

    Reply

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