The USA vs Haitians: Politics Over People

Posted on Nov 22, 2017

The priorities of the age we live in, especially in terms of race and immigration, are becoming more and more apparent in the USA. The seeds of anti-immigrant sentiment planted during the campaign in 2016 have grown into fully developed rage.

The Department of Homeland Security has announced an end to a humanitarian program which gave a protected temporary resident status to 59,000 Haitians living in the USA since the 2010 earthquake. The Haitians are a portion of 320,000 people currently benefiting from the Temporary Protected Status program (U.S. Code § 1254a) (referred to for the remainder of this editorial as “TPS”), a program which was put into place in 1990 under President Bush as a means of offering protected status to foreign nationals who could not return to their countries due to ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or “other extraordinary and temporary conditions”.

The rescinding of TPS is entirely legal, but that doesn’t mean its ethical.

The program’s exact wording is lengthy but the most pertinent section is as follows. At One Hundred For Haiti we are paying close attention to the end of Section (A), the basic idea behind Section (B), and the end of Section (C). After the following citation we will add comments and some clarity. The law says that the Attorney General may designate any foreign state to be under the guidelines of TPS if:

“(A) the Attorney General finds that there is an ongoing armed conflict within the state and, due to such conflict, requiring the return of aliens who are nationals of that state to that state (or to the part of the state) would pose a serious threat to their personal safety;

(B) the Attorney General finds that—
(i) there has been an earthquake, flood, drought, epidemic, or other environmental disaster in the state resulting in a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in the area affected,
(ii) the foreign state is unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return to the state of aliens who are nationals of the state, and
(iii) the foreign state officially has requested designation under this subparagraph; or

(C) the Attorney General finds that there exist extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent aliens who are nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety, unless the Attorney General finds that permitting the aliens to remain temporarily in the United States is contrary to the national interest of the United States.”

The TPS goes on to say that the status can last for up to eighteen months. As we stated earlier, rescinding it is legal. However we are most concerned with the idea that Haiti as a neighbor and country is still struggling to get on its feet not just after the seven years since the quake, but after over two hundred years of racist and anti-Haitian policy. It is not easily forgotten that in 1820, Senator Robert Hayne from South Carolina said, “Our policy with regard to Haiti is plain. We never can acknowledge her independence.” The threat of free slaves was simply too impossible to imagine for a country which profited wildly from racism and injustice against people of color, both financially and in terms of rallying public support behind American ideals. Racism has defined US foreign policy for two hundred years.

Today, Haitians in Haiti rely heavily on the money sent home from their family members in the USA. To be exact, the number is just under 30% (29.4%) of Haiti’s entire gross domestic product according to the World Bank figures for 2016. One Hundred For Haiti actively worked on behalf of, and directly with, such relatives early on in our organization and have seen the effects of this intra-family aid firsthand. To push these people out of the country not only does nothing for the USA, but it works actively against the people of Haiti.

We have a government desperate for any sort of legislative victory. They have targeted Haitians for eventual deportation as a means of coming across as tough on immigration. This choice fits right in line with proposed policies ranging from the wall against Mexico, the administrations position on DACA, and the Muslim immigration ban.

In terms of Section (A) above, One Hundred For Haiti board member Nathan Bean put it clearly when he said recently, “The idea that Haiti could absorb 50k people returning is complete bullshit. Ripping families apart and implementing half baked policy is an area of expertise for this morally corrupt administration.” The safety of all are affected when social conditions cannot support the population at hand. This is the case certainly in many parts of Port-au-Prince where these tens of thousands of deported Haitians would likely land upon their return.

In terms of Section (B), the cholera epidemic from 2010 to 2013, the crushing devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017, have been punishing blows to a country which is still struggling with corruption and socio-economic issues that prevent rapid development. To say that living conditions have been disrupted is an understatement.

In terms of Section (C), it is clear that making a political statement about an assumed threat from within our borders by deporting people is in “the national interest of the United States”. Of all the victories the administration could try and claim on behalf of the USA, this seems to be the most low hanging of all possible fruit.

While we don’t want to paint a portrait of Haitians as helpless, or unable to manage their own destiny, we do want to be clear that Haiti is still a country in development and deserving of support. To actively work against the development of Haiti is against the mission statement of One Hundred For Haiti and as a result we stand against the United States’ decision to reverse the Temporary Protected Status program.

These are most definitely troubled times.

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For additional reading on anti-immigration policy in the USA, see: THIS ARTICLE in the Washington Post.

SEVEN more anti-violence trainings funded

Posted on Nov 21, 2017

Because of you, One Hundred For Haiti just wired enough money to Haiti to fund anti-sexual assault trainings in SEVEN rural communities. These trainings are geared towards people who have no previous understanding or training whatsoever about alternatives to sexual violence and child abuse. In the trainings, attendees discover approaches to better behavior, learn to define violence and assault, and brainstorm ways that individuals and communities can work together to create a new reality with less oppression, with a large focus on the treatment of women and children.

There has never been a consolidated anti-rape or anti-sexual assault initiative in the south of Haiti before. Our partners in GTPE, Little Footprints, Big Steps, and a dozen other social service agencies came together with a goal to change that. One Hundred For Haiti funds the entire initiative, paying for an ongoing series of trainings across the south of the country. This is made possible because of your recurring monthly donations.

Photos below show a training last week in the rural community of Tiburon. In each community, inspired local citizens have come forward to form action groups to do ongoing work with their neighbors so that action and discussion about how to change dynamics of violence/abuse/respect in the community can continue long beyond the training date.

In a world where every headline is about assault and abuse over the last few weeks, these trainings are not only necessary and essential. They are a clear step towards a better world.

Protect the Vulnerable

Posted on Nov 5, 2017

Protect the Vulnerable by One Hundred For Haiti board member, Nathan Bean.

It almost seems as if the earth is fighting back lately against its greatest threat, human beings. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes are occurring at an alarming rate. It feels scary. It is scary.

I heard it said on a recent episode of The Daily that, “By loading the atmosphere with carbon, its like a baseball player taking steroids.” What Texas A&M climate scientist Andrew Dessler means is that a seasoned baseball player can hit a baseball just fine, i.e. natural disasters ravaged earth long before humans. However, a seasoned baseball player on steroids hits the hell out of the ball, i.e. after building factories, eating burgers, and driving Hummers, natural disasters have became far more devastating and deadly.

I would add an element to this useful analogy. Recently, a two year-old girl sitting close to the field at Yankee Stadium was struck by a line drive. It was a horrific event and fortunately, she is going to live, though the road ahead will be a long one. The element I wish to add to the baseball player on steroids analogy is that people living in poverty are vulnerable to line drives and about as equipped to absorb impact as a two year-old.

It has been said many times and must be restated and restated that a quarter million Haitians did not die on account of an earthquake in 2010. They died because Haiti is a poor country that has been ravaged by a history of economic disempowerment, starting with slavery and continuing to some degree by NGOs.

This makes Haiti and countries like it vulnerable to line drives and we make it worse when we willfully supply the the steroid business, carbon which contributes to the downfall of our climate. This is the fight of our lifetime and countries like the United States have a responsibility to reverse the damage that we have disproportionately done.

It is not our job to stop natural disasters from happening. It is our job to protect the most vulnerable among us. Baseball teams around the majors are acting to add protective netting, which will keep fans safe from line drives. Perhaps we could do something similar for the people in countries like Haiti who stand to lose so much with the increasing number and power of natural disasters.

It is the least we can do, until we decide the most we can do is worth it.

New partnership with BETTER FINDS

Posted on Sep 28, 2017

One Hundred For Haiti has partnered with new Seattle start up BETTER FINDS. They have figured out a way to allow you to sell things around your house and have the proceeds directly benefit humanitarian and charity organizations.

Here, Greg and BETTER FINDS founder David White discuss the partnership which launched this past week. You can learn more and download the BETTER FINDS app on the right side of this page.

In motion immediately after Hurricane Irma

Posted on Sep 8, 2017

Our friends in the rural north of Haiti received high winds and rain from Hurricane Irma, enough to damage small homes, but they report no injuries and were thankfully spared a direct hit from the storm.

We got these photos early this morning and are already in motion to send repair funds. This will pay for people to hire workers from among their own village to fix the homes and get those families protected once again from whatever storm might be next. A great example of your donations at work when they are needed most. Thank you!

Damage to a rural home from Hurricane Irma, September 2017

Damage to a rural home from Hurricane Irma, September 2017.

Damage to a rural home from Hurricane Irma, September 2017.

Worried about Haiti!

Posted on Sep 7, 2017

Haiti is in our thoughts with the approach of Hurricane Irma. The residents of Haiti are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew and many don’t realize due to lack of access to news outlets that another hurricane is on the way. We will be ready to support our friends in Haiti however they need if in fact the hurricane hits the island as some say it might.

Stay tuned for updates.

Our thoughts are with Houston…

Posted on Sep 3, 2017

The disaster in Houston from Hurricane Harvey is a catastrophe of epic proportions. Our hearts and minds go out to the people there. We understand the impact that an event like this can have, given the effects we’ve seen over the last few years in Haiti, and how long the devastation and its troubling effects can persist.

We’d like to recommend that people do their due diligence as they choose relief organizations to support for Houston relief work. Find a group which is small, mobile, and effective. It takes time to do that level of exploration to find the right one. Often times small groups or individuals are doing solid work, and they are focusing on that work instead of promoting it, so they aren’t as easy to find as a group which has a budget for media and outreach.

Alternately, you can find a larger organization which can offer validation about where resources are used, so that you know your money, time, or resources are being put to the best use possible.

Remember that immediately after a major catastrophic event, people rush to help, and in doing so often put resources into groups which might not be the most efficient.

Also keep in mind that the first push to help, much like the push to offer condolences after someone loses a loved one, are important of course. Perhaps just as important – and sometimes more so – are the support efforts which come weeks or even months after the initial loss. These efforts come in as back up to the original relief push, but long after the first round of attention has passed. The point is: be diligent, and stay informed, but don’t feel that you HAVE to act today to be effective. You can take time, or you can act fast. Just make sure your efforts are going to the right place.

Do your research, even on the organizations we are going to suggest right now as none are directly affiliated with One Hundred For Haiti. They are ones which have been recommended by people in the disaster zone. We have had contact with the first, but are going off of a trusted colleagues recommendation about the efficiency of the second:

A SMALL ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY INDIVIDUALS:

WEST STREET RELIEF – weststreetrecovery@gmail.com for more info

DESCRIPTION: Put time an energy into looking at these folks first. This is a grassroots effort and is not connected with any NGO’s or the Red Cross. We will be delivering supplies of food, cleaning supplies, water, etc. And possibly helping people clean out their homes. Any money donated will go towards buying supplies for people affected by the flood. Any funds left over will potentially be donated to grassroots groups in the Houston area, and NOT the Red Cross. Currently we are associated with West Street Recovery in Houston’s 5th Ward.

TO DONATE: http://tinyurl.com/HOUSTON2017relief

A LARGER EFFORT:

HOUSTON FLOOD RELIEF FUND – If you feel more comfortable supporting a bigger relief effort, this is the fund started by J.J. Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans. This fund has attracted a lot of major donors.

TO DONATE and LEARN MORE: https://www.youcaring.com/victimsofhurricaneharvey-915053

SUPPORTING MARGINALIZED VICTIMS:

HOW TO DONATE AND SUPPORT COMMUNITIES OF COLOR IN HOUSTON: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/how-donate-money-and-other-aid-communities-color-houston

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