Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Urgent Request: Sign Letter & Fax to President Obama demanding TPS for Haitians and a Halt to all deportations of Haitians!

Urgent Request for Support & Solidarity


Dear NNIRR Members, Partners, Allies & Friends:


We are asking you to take three immediate actions by calling President Barack Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians and to demand a halt to the deportation of all Haitians.


NNIRR is supporting this on-going action organized by the Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami and the Florida Immigrant Coalition with other grassroots and advocacy organizations in Florida and other parts of the country.


Please take these three actions today to support TPS for Haitians and a halt to all deportations!


1.     We are asking organizations to sign and fax the below letter to President Obama on your organization's letterhead.


2.     Pick up the telephone and call the White House. Tell President Obama to end the Bush Administration's inhumane policy towards Haiti and grant TPS to Haitians. Your call to the White House is critical to demanding a halt to Haitian deportations, pending a full review of the policy (see fact sheet below for talking points).


3.     Sign an on-line petition that asks President Obama to grant TPS to Haitians and halt deportations: http://www.petitiononline.com/TPS2009/petition.html


4.     Please see background news articles below, too.




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President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500


Fax: 202-456-2461



RE: The Administration Should Urgently Stay Deportations to Haiti


Dear President Obama:


First, congratulations on your new job. Immigrant communities look forward to working with your administration. Certainly you have many pressing priorities. We are compelled, however, to bring to your attention a life or death matter: Haitian deportees face hunger, homelessness and unemployment, if not worse, in the wake of four killer storms that further devastated our hemisphere's poorest nation. We urge you to immediately stay deportations to Haiti pending review of U.S. immigration policy toward Haitians.


These deportations are inhumane and, we believe, contrary to your administration's values of fairness, transparency and respect for human rights. Please consider:


·        • The former administration stayed deportations to Haiti in September only to resume them abruptly in December without notice or reasonable explanation. This was a last-minute Department of Homeland Security policy reversal. It should not stand.

·        • Conditions in Haiti remain abysmal. The storms destroyed 15 percent of its GDP—the equivalent of eight to 10 Hurricane Katrinas hitting the U.S. in one month. Yesterday the State Department renewed warnings to not to travel to Haiti due to the "destructive impact" of the storms.

·        • Staying the deportations is in the interest of the U.S. Sending more people in need of food and shelter will further burden the Haitian government, which already is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the natural disaster. Deportees only delay recovery efforts. Meanwhile, Haitians who remain here would continue to send remittances, encouraging relatives to stay in Haiti and help rebuild their country.

·        • These deportations tear apart families, hurting U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Vialine Jean Paul, 34, married a U.S. citizen. Their 7-year-old, U.S-born daughter is being treated for a chronic viral infection. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Ms. Jean Paul to buy plane tickets for herself and her daughter to go to Haiti on February 9. Her dilemma: Should she put her daughter at risk of malaria, hepatitis, cholera, malnutrition and uncertain medical care in Haiti or leave her sick daughter behind?


Across the U.S., many want our government to stand with the Haitian people. Haiti still needs U.S. help. Please help by immediately staying deportations to Haiti and undoing the last administration's late-term policy reversal. It is the fair and decent course of action.







City, State Zip Code

Contact Telephone and email



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Fact Sheet/Talking Points for Haiti:

TPS for Haitians



Call and Fax the White House:

Comments: 202-456-1111

Switchboard: 202-456-1414

FAX: 202-456-2461

Or visit: www.whitehouse.gov


Why the U.S. Government should IMMEDIATELY halt deportations to Haiti:

·        During a one-month period, and in rapid succession, FOUR DEVASTATING STORMS ravaged Haiti

·        The World Bank assessed the storm damage at nearly ONE BILLION DOLLARS, or about 15 percent of Haiti's GDP.


·        The United Nations has called this "the worst disaster to hit Haiti in 100 years"

·        Over 800 people were killed, with thousand missing or injured

·        Haiti's third largest city, Gonaives, has been rendered uninhabitable

·        Massive flooding caused nationwide damage to agriculture and infrastructure including roads, bridges, water and sanitation systems, schools, hospitals and housing.

·        Inadequate sanitation and potable water and standing pools of polluted flood water have left hundreds of thousands at risk of malaria, hepatitis, and cholera

·        The nation's food crop has been largely destroyed, as have farm tools, seeds for next year's crop, and livestock and irrigation systems vital to farmers and rice production

·        Dozens of children have starved to death, and UNICEF has said that 300,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition


What the US Government should do in response to this humanitarian crisis:

·        Immediately halt all deportations to Haiti

·        Grant Deferred Enforced Departure and/or Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the United States for 18 months; and for those so protected:

·        Authorize them to work;

·        Release them from detention; and

·        Suspend all legal and administrative proceedings against them.


How halting deportations helps Haiti and protects U. S. interests:

·        Allows Haiti to prepare and safely receive returnees in the future, reducing the stress on a fragile economy unable to assimilate additional homeless, jobless migrants

·        Enables Haitians in the United States to work, pay taxes, and send remittances to relatives in Haiti crucial to their survival

·        Protects U.S. borders and resources by sustaining life-sustaining remittances and reducing socio-economic burdens which lead to desperate emigration attempts; reduced outflow preserves U.S. Coast Guard, Border Patrol, detention, and administrative resources.

·        Safeguards U.S.-born American children from having their parents ripped away from them; the destruction of these families is fundamentally un-American.

·        Restores U.S. commitment to the rule of law and the principle of equal protection by granting Haitians the same deserved protection granted other similarly-situated nationals




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Click here to support TPS for Haitians & to demand a halt to the deportation of Haitians:




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Institute for Southern Studies



Haitians facing deportation look to Obama for help


The United States is set to deport more than 30,000 Haitians to their impoverished homeland, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced this week. A protest in response to the decision has been planned for Saturday, Feb. 21 in Broward County, Florida. Haitian activists and immigrants are calling for a halt to the arrests and a suspension of the deportations.


Deportation orders have been processed for 30,299 Haitians and they are starting to be implemented. Hundreds of Haitians have been put in camps awaiting the return home, while others have been put under a form of house arrest and are being monitored with electronic ankle bracelets, the AFP reported


As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti's troubles significantly increased with the passage of four deadly back-to-back storms last fall -- Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike -- that killed more than 800 persons and worsened the nation's food crisis. The storms devastated the small, impoverished island nation, washing away roads, bridges and crops. Thousands lost their homes. By some estimates, 80 percent of the country's population had been displaced by wide-ranging flood damage. A joint World Bank, United Nations and European Commission assessment released last November determined that total losses from the storms -- "the largest disaster for Haiti in more than 100 years" -- could equal 15 percent of Haiti's gross national product. 


Haitian President René Préval has urged the United States to grant Haitians nationals in the United States temporary protection status as victims of natural disasters, insisting Haiti is still struggling to recover from last year's devastating hurricanes and cannot handle the return of its citizens. Haitian officials even said they will not issue the travel documents needed to process the deportees. But ICE argues that Haiti's resistance will force people to languish longer in crowded detention centers. 


The U.S. government did halt deportations to Haiti for three months last year, starting in September. After resuming flights in December, the administration of then President George W. Bush denied Haiti's request for "temporary protected status." Temporary protected status, or TPS, is a special state granted to immigrants of certain nationalities who are unable to return to their countries because of armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The designation would have allowed Haitians living in the United States illegally to stay and work temporarily as their home country recovered from the devastating storm season. 


Several Florida lawmakers criticized the Department of Homeland Security's decision to resume deportations last December. Haitian grassroots activists and immigration advocates have since renewed the call for TPS for Haitian nationals in the United States. Haitian advocates are upset that the new Obama White House seems to be maintaining the same policy of the past administrations -- one that advocates say represents a double-standard in dealing with Haitian immigrants. 


Protected status has been granted and extended by the DHS to people from a handful of African and Central American countries because of natural disasters. For instance, Hondurans are still getting TPS from a natural disaster that occurred in 1999. In addition to Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan have temporary protected status through 2010. Yet, Haiti has never been granted such a status. Over the years, the United States has become notorious for turning away Haitian "boat people" coming into South Florida seeking refuge and asylum from political upheaval and disaster. 


The impact of U.S. and multinational policies continue to haunt the country. Over the years, due to harsh policies and pressure from the United States, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Haiti was forced to undergo strict structural adjustment policies that had a devastating impact on its local economy. Critics argue that international lending organizations helped worsen hunger in Haiti by pursuing free market policies that undermined domestic rice production and turned the country into a market for U.S. rice. This food crisis was further compounded by crippling sanctions, political destabilization, and environmental destruction.


Now Haitian advocates are wondering if the Obama era will bring in fair immigration reform or just more of the same.



South Florida Sun-Sentinel



Protest held in Pompano Beach against U.S. policy on Haitians

Hundreds in Pompano Beach seek Obama administration's attention


By Aiyana Baida

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 1, 2009


Pompano Beach


Hundreds of Haitians and supporters gathered to protest current U.S. immigration law and urge President Barack Obama and his administration to grant temporary protection status to the more than 30,000 illegal Haitian immigrants living in the United States.


Haiti's poverty has long hurt its people but after Hurricane Gustav struck the island in August 2008, thousands were left homeless without food, running water and electricity.


Under current immigration law, the 600 Haitians being held at the Broward Transitional Center on Powerline Road, where the protest was held, will be sent back to even more dire conditions.


Edwige Telemaque, host of the Palm Beach County radio show Haiti America International, said the Haitian community is one of the only immigrant communities that has met the conditions for temporary protection status but has not been granted it.


"We have had four hurricanes that have left us with no security and no food," Telemaque said, "We are not looking for the U.S. to give us anything. We just want what everyone else has — freedom."


Shay Charles, 15, at the protest with her mother and five sisters, said she hopes their voices would reach Obama.


"My step-dad is in Canada and hasn't seen my little sister, Shakayla," Shay said about the 2-month-old sitting in a baby carriage. "We just want him to be home with us."


Her mother Alita Polydor has sought legal counsel to help them unite their family. "I hope we can bring him home legally," Polydor said. She is one of thousands of broken families affected by current immigration laws.


Richard Champagne, a Haitian American who is president of Haitian Lawyers Association, led a coalition of civil and immigration lawyers whose message, "What do we want — TPS!" shouted with a bullhorn, could be heard two blocks away.


Jonel Lemy, an association lawyer who has defended deportees, said he has seen an increase in cases in the last six months.


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


"We will continue to protest and take our message to Washington and we expect President Obama to support us," he added.


The protest brought local Haitian performers together and had an unexpected visit from singers Wycelf and Melky Jean.


The siblings, who have each founded their own orga nizations that provide aid to Haiti, are taking their message nationally in an effort to have temporary protection status given to their community.


"To help Haiti you can't deport 30,000 people. It's like putting more sand on the beach," Wyclef said.


"It's not right that people that have been here for 20 years get deported and are sent away from their kids. They deserve a fair chance." Wyclef said.




Arnoldo Garcia

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados

310 8th Street Suite 303

Oakland, CA 94607

Tel (510) 465-1984 ext. 305

Fax (510) 465-1885





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See NNIRR's letter with signatures

to President Barack Obama at



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