Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Haiti a Case for Temporary Protected Status

Nature has not been good to the Caribbean island of Haiti. The summer and early fall storms and tropical hurricanes have left an estimated one million homeless; this includes 300,000 children who have been displaced and nearly 1,000 people who have died or are still missing. In a recent statement before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) observed, "...It is now more imperative than ever that the United States grant Haitian immigrants Temporary Protective Status (TPS). TPS is the least expensive, most immediate form of humanitarian assistance we can provide Haiti."

Towns have disappeared, family members search for their loved ones, and contact with those who have family members in other parts of the world – including the United States – has been difficult. The island’s most recent devastation comes at a time when Haiti continued abject poverty and a decimated social infrastructure, the ebb and flow of political unrest, and a feeble economic situation.

In the face of this reality, Haitian communities and their allies have moved forward with a call for granting Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to those who have fled the island to the U.S. and are undocumented immigrants or workers.

On October 9th a meeting took place at AFSC’s Miami office to discuss the Caribbean nation’s current conditions and future strategies. A grassroots coalition was formed to share information on how to protect and prevent raids; provide a voice to share Haiti’s current conditions; organize a plan of action; and respond to the concerns to protect the human and civil rights of the nation’s Haitian community.

Paul-Andre Mondesir, AFSC Haitian Community Advocate shares, “AFSC is part of a community coalition and meetings to map out a plan of action, and to help address the urgent needs of community members.” The renewal of TPS for nationals from several Central American and African nations torn apart by strife, war and natural disasters provides an added context for U.S. leaders to consider TPS as a humane response to Haiti’s most recent emergency. While there seems to be a temporary let-up in the detention and deportation of Haitians, there is significant concern that this will not last.

AFSC has had a long-term engagement with the people of Haiti, both in assistance with community empowerment, and development in Haitian communities, and in support of the Haitian Diaspora. This work is grounded in an institutional commitment to reconciliation and justice rooted in Quaker values and practices.

American Friends Immigrant Services (AFIS) Program in Miami will continue its work to support a humane response and to advocate for the designation of temporary protected status for Haitians presently in the United States.

For further information on how you can add your voice to the call for temporary protected status or to support the AFIS partnership with the Haitian community, contact Lucio Perez-Reynoso, director of the AFIS Miami office at or Paul-Andre Mondesir at or at 305-252-6441.

 As a first step: Contact your Congressional leader and urge support for the TPS status for Haitians, The Haitian Protection Act of 2007, H. R. 522. The bill will be reintroduced in the 111th Congress (Since the House has adjourned, this bill will need to be reintroduced in the next session which begins in January). The cosponsors of the bill are Representatives Hastings, Meek and Corrine Brown.