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U.S. Residents Under TPS Face Uncertainty as Deadline for Extension Approaches

April 23, 2017 - 06:35

What does life look like today for the tens of thousands of Haitians currently residing in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS)? The vast majority have resided in the U.S. for 7.5 to 15 years, and many have launched their own businesses, started families and created new lives; they overcame obstacles, such as the devastating earthquake, that initially rendered a return to Haiti dangerous and inhumane. However, the conditions in Haiti have not improved enough to warrant deportations, and the expiration of TPS would only exacerbate problems in Haiti. Haiti would lose an estimated $1.3 billion in annual remittances that are sent from U.S. residents back to family and friends. Additionally, many U.S.-born children would be forced to relocate to a country which they have never seen and in which they cannot speak the language. At this point, a return to Haiti would still be dangerous and inhumane, and TPS must be extended.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article and video.

Haitians fear protected status expiration will lead to deportations

Mike Clary, Sun Sentinel

April 23, 2017

In the dozen years she has lived in the U.S., Miramar resident Farah Larrieux has built a successful career as a bilingual television host and Haitian-American community activist.

Elizabeth Fabien, a former Pembroke Pines resident now living in Orlando, enjoys a comfortable life centered around her business as a financial planner.

And Jean — a Miami-Dade man who asked that his last name not be used because he fears immigration action against him — has put his professional career on hold to care for his two American-born children, ages 11 and 7. One child has special needs, and Jean is a stay-at-home dad.

But all three could soon find themselves uprooted from their American lives and back in their native Haiti if the Trump administration does not renew the special immigration status that has allowed about 50,000 Haitians to stay in the U.S. as their impoverished Caribbean nation coped with a devastating 2010 earthquake. It expires July 22.

Click HERE for the original article and video.

Extending Temporary Protected Status for over 50,000 Is the Right Thing to Do

April 22, 2017 - 09:03

Several U.S. newspapers are calling on the Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly to show compassion by extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 50, 000 Haitians who have been living in the United States legally. The editorial boards of those papers argued that sending thousands of Haitians back to Haiti, an earthquake-ravaged country, will be a “travesty.” They also pointed out that thousands of Haitians are still calling shelters and makeshift tents their homes seven years after the earthquake devastated the western part of the country. Finally, they added that thousands of Haitians are still battling the curable cholera epidemic introduced by United Nations peacekeepers soon after the Jan. 10 earthquake.

Read the full article HERE.

Let them stay: U.S. must show compassion to threatened Haitians

Editorial, New York Daily News

April 22, 2017

When an earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, killing a quarter million people, the United States channeled its better angels and let 50,000 Haitian nationals residing here stay until the catastrophe on the island was over.

This Temporary Protected Status applies only to people who obeyed the law. Anyone who committed a crime was subject to deportation.

The problem is that instead of ending when the 18-month period of Temporary Protected Status expired, Haiti’s catastrophe has multiplied.

Which means, America, in the person of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, must react with compassion and common sense and keep the program going by overriding the wrongheaded plan of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to send these folks away in January.

The persuasive case the extension is the hard-luck post-earthquake history of Haiti.

In October 2010, UN peacekeepers from Nepal caused a nation-wide cholera epidemic by discharging their latrines into Haiti’s largest river. A pestilence unknown in Haiti for more than a century spread unchecked in a country with primitive wastewater systems already stricken by the earthquake, killing 10,000 and sickening a million.

Washington understood that forcing 50,000 Haitians here to return under those conditions made no sense and has kept the Temporary Protected Status in place since the 2010 earthquake.

Poor Haiti was hit with yet another Biblical-level disaster last October when Hurricane Matthew, a Category 5 storm, slammed ashore, killing more than 1,000 people, destroying infrastructure and crops and threatening malnutrition.

Republicans and Democrats, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Chuck Schumer of New York, have written to Kelly imploring him to do right by the Haitians here and extend their temporary stay, regardless of what immigration services bureaucrats think.

These people are guests, granted temporary repose until their home country can get back on its feet. Homeland Security knows where each man, woman and child is, and any noncitizen is subject to deportation if her or she commits a crime.

Be a good neighbor. Say yes, Secretary Kelly.

Read the full article HERE.

Trump Administration May Deport 50, 000 Haitians By Next January

April 22, 2017 - 06:20

This is despite lawmakers from both parties writing Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly to extend Temporary Protected Status for over 50, 000 Haitians who are legally living in the United States. Secretary Kelly is contemplating this move based on the report written by the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, James McCament in which he stated that things have improved enough in Haiti to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. It is important to point out that over half a million Haitians are still calling shelters and makeshift tents their homes seven years after the earthquake ravaged the western part of the country. In addition, thousands of Haitians are still battling the curable cholera epidemic introduced by United Nations peacekeepers right after the Jan. 10 earthquake.
Read the original article HERE.

The United States may be about to inflict a massive hardship on Haiti
Roosevelt Dume, 37, left, sits in a hospital in Port-a-Piment, Haiti, after hiking out of the town of Randel with his 3-year-old son, Roodley, right foreground, who was suffering from cholera in October. (Joshua Partlow/The Washington Post)By Editorial BoardThe Washington Post
April 22, 2017

POVERTY IN Haiti, by far the most destitute country in the Americas, is so extreme that it defies most Americans’ imaginations. Nearly 60 percent of Haitians live on less than $2.42 per day; a quarter of Haitians scratch out a living on half that amount. That the United States would intentionally inflict a sudden, massive and unsustainable hardship on such a country — one already reeling from a series of natural and man-made disasters — defies common sense, morality and American principles. Yet that is exactly what Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly is now considering.

Incredibly, an agency under Mr. Kelly’s purview has recommended that some 50,000 Haitians now living legally in the United States be expelleden masse next January. If Mr. Kelly approves the expulsion, it would be a travesty. It would, at a stroke, compound the humanitarian suffering in a nation of 10.4 million already reeling from a huge earthquake in 2010, an ongoing cholera epidemic that is the world’s worst and a devastating hurricane that swept the island only last fall.

The recommendation from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, involves Haitians who have lived in the United States since the 2010 earthquake and have been allowed to remain legally since then on humanitarian grounds, under a series of 18-month renewals.

Now, the agency proposes to revoke the “temporary protected status,” or TPS, under which those Haitians live and work in the United States, a move that would trigger an exodus into a country ill-equipped to absorb them. It would also sever a major source of income on which several hundred thousand Haitians depend — namely, cash sent back to the island by their relatives working in the United States.

In December, the same immigration agency now urging expulsion issued a report saying that the horrendous conditions that prompted the TPS designation in 2010 persist, including a housing shortage, the cholera epidemic, scanty medical care, food insecurity and economic wreckage.

Haiti’s fundamental economic situation is unchanged since that report. The effects of Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm when it hit Haiti last October, were particularly devastating, leading to catastrophic losses to agriculture, livestock, fishing and hospitals in rural areas, plus nearly 4,000 schools damaged or destroyed, according to the World Bank. The value of those losses is estimated at $1.9 billion, more than a fifth of Haiti’s gross domestic product; the storm left more than a million Haitians in need of humanitarian aid.

In addition to Haitians, citizens of a dozen other war-torn, poverty-stricken and disaster-struck countries living in the United States have been granted temporary protective status, including El Salvador and Nicaragua, both of which are richer than Haiti. For the United States, the hemisphere’s richest country, to saddle Haiti, the poorest, with what would amount to a staggering new burden would be cruel and gratuitous. It may also be self-defeating. It’s hardly unthinkable that a sudden infusion of 50,000 jobless people could trigger instability in a nation with a long history of upheavals that often washed up on U.S. shores. Food for thought, Mr. Kelly.

Read the original article HERE.

Women Impregnated by Peacekeepers Need UN Cooperation, but Met with Silence

April 21, 2017 - 10:33

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) is representing Haitian women who were impregnated, and left without child support payments, by United Nations peacekeepers. The women face housing and food shortages, struggling to make ends meet for their families. However, the UN has thus far been uncooperative in the cases and withheld results of DNA tests administered to some of the women. UN cooperation is crucial to the success of these cases and in order to help the women and their families to meet their basic needs.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Haitian mothers claim UN unresponsive over support for peacekeeper children

Rebecca Ratcliffe, The Guardian

April 21, 2017

The UN has been accused of refusing to cooperate with a human rights group that is pursuing child support payments for women left pregnant by its peacekeeping forces.

Lawyers representing 10 women in Haiti plan to pursue child support cases through civil action, but say they need the UN’s assistance to proceed because most of the men involved are no longer in the country.

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), a legal firm in Haiti, wrote to the UN in August requesting the results of DNA tests administered to some of the women. Mario Joseph, managing attorney at BAI, said the letter, sent through Haiti’s foreign ministry, has been met with silence.

“[Life for the women] is really terrible,” said Joseph. “We’ve got more than six who live in the south of Haiti; Hurricane Matthew destroyed the south. Some of them don’t have any housing, they tried to go to relatives and they begged to get food for the baby.”

The UN stabilisation mission in Haiti (Minustah) said in a statement that it is in contact with the foreign affairs ministry regarding the cases and is awaiting further details in relation to one of the women.

Click HERE for the original article.

AILA Gravely Concerned by Reports that USCIS Recommends Ending Protections for Haitian Nationals

April 21, 2017 - 08:21

 April 21, 2017

CONTACTS:George Tzamaras
202-507-7649
gtzamaras@aila.orgBelle Woods
202-507-7675
bwoods@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) expressed grave concern regarding reports that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is recommending that the United States end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals in January 2018. AILA President William A. Stock stated, “In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake’s devastating impact on Haitian infrastructure, the U.S. government offered temporary relief to Haitian nationals while they worked to rebuild their country. Since then, the country has continued to be ravaged by disease and political instability, which have been exacerbated by limited access to potable water, food, and medical services, and a lack of adequate housing. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew ripped through Haiti, further damaging the already fragile island nation. It is impossible to reconcile the notion that our government would consider ending in a few short months TPS for Haitians with the reality of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in a country that is still reeling from the effects of natural disaster.”

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, noted, “The provision of a safe haven to those who would face dire conditions if forced to return to their home countries is fundamental to U.S. humanitarian policy. The bottom line is that conditions in Haiti have not improved to an extent that would remotely justify the end of TPS. The elimination of TPS for Haiti will not only create immense hardships for close to 47,000 Haitian individuals who have lived in the United States under the protection of this program for more than 7 years, it will also impact their children, many of whom are U.S. citizens, and their families back home, who rely on remittances for their basic needs. There is bipartisan support for extending Haiti TPS and it is not too late for DHS to act. Extending TPS for Haiti is simply the right thing to do.”

###The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Allowing TPS Expiration for Haitians May Signal Future of Trump Administration

April 21, 2017 - 07:41

Recent recommendations from the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to end TPS by January have shocked many who understand the instability that still affects tens of thousands in Haiti. Currently, +40,000 Haitians live in makeshift shelter or tents, the country is recovering from damage to much of its infrastructure, and the southern regions suffer from a severe food and housing shortage in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. After visiting Haiti and seeing the situation there, politicians have urged President Trump and DHS Secretary Kelly to renew TPS. However, many now fear that these warnings will go unheeded by the Trump administration as it approaches the July 22 deadline for extension.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Tens of thousands of Haitians could be sent back to Haiti if Trump agency has its way

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 21, 2017

The Trump administration is recommending sending tens of thousands of Haitians back to their homeland because it believes conditions have significantly improved in the disaster-prone, poverty-stricken nation.

But the move comes as more than 40,000 Haitians continue to call makeshift shelters and tents homes — seven years after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake — and as severe hunger and housing crises plague the country’s southern region six months after a deadly Hurricane Matthew wiped out roads, home and farmland.

“If they send everyone back to Haiti, they might as well be sending us to die,” said Cadeus Chaleus, 70, who after 16 years of living as an undocumented immigrant in Miami has spent the past seven years living without fear of deportation. “Despite what they say, things have not improved at home.”

Click HERE for the original article.

USCIS Director Recommends Ending Temporary Protected Status for Haitians

April 20, 2017 - 15:05

For months, advocates and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have been urging extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. TPS was first granted in 2010 after an earthquake ravaged Haiti and it has been constantly extended since then since conditions in Haiti haven’t improved enough to send people back. Now, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services has recommended that the Secretary of Homeland Security not extend the TPS deadline. Continued advocacy is needed to make sure that this recommendation is not heeded!

Part of the article is below. Read the full text here.

Learn more about TPS and calls for extension.

Trump immigration agency wants to kick 50,000 Haitians out of the USA

Alan Gomez, USA Today

April 20, 2017

President Trump’s immigration agency is recommending that the U.S. end temporary protections by next January for 50,000 Haitians allowed to remain in the United States following a series of natural disasters that have crippled the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation.

James McCament, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, concluded in a letter last week that conditions in Haiti have improved enough to end “temporary protected status” for Haitians, according to a copy of the letter obtained by USA TODAY.

The Obama administration first offered temporary protection to Haitians following the devastating 2010 earthquake. The protection has been extended several times, the latest set to expire July 22. McCament proposed an extension to January to allow for a “period of orderly transition” but said the program should not be extended beyond then.

A final decision on the Haitians’ fate rests with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Spokesman David Lapan said Thursday that Kelly has not yet made that decision.

 

Read the full text here.

Significant Losses to U.S. Taxpayers & GDP if TPS for Haitians Not Extended, Report Finds

April 20, 2017 - 10:29

A recent report by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center finds there will be significant economic repercussions within the U.S. if Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is not extended for Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras. Haiti’s TPS designation is the first of the three countries set to expire in July, if DHS does not grant an extension, and 46,558 Haitians currently residing in the U.S. under this status would face deportation. The report shows that allowing Haiti’s TPS to expire would reduce U.S. GDP by $2.8 billion over a decade and cost taxpayers $468 million to enforce the deportations.

Below is the Executive Summary of the report. Click HERE for the original report.Economic Contributions by Salvadoran, Honduran and Haitian TPS Holders: The Cost to Taxpayers, GDP, and Businesses of Ending TPS

Amanda Baran and Jose Magaña-Salgado with Tom K. Wong, Immigrant Legal Resource Center

April 2017

I. Executive Summary

In the next two years, the current Administration, through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will consider whether to extend designations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for all countries that currently hold TPS.1 TPS is a form of immigration status that provides employment authorization and protection from deportation for foreign nationals who cannot be safely returned to their home countries.1 In terms of countries with the largest share of TPS recipients, the Trump Administration will decide whether to terminate the immigration status of over 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and, most imminently, Haiti.2 In light of this Administration’s radical increase of interior and exterior enforcement through executive orders, funding requests, and policy guidance, the continued existence of TPS for these three countries is very much at risk. Thus, it is critical to determine the economic impact that termination of TPS for these three countries would have on taxpayers, businesses, and nation’s economy.

Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), this report estimates the number of immigrants that would be impacted by ending TPS and examines the economic consequences of terminating TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. Among the key findings of this report:

▪  There are approximately 186,403 Salvadorans, 70,281 Hondurans, and 46,558 Haitians who currently hold a valid grant of TPS, for a total of approximately 300,000 individuals.

▪  As the DHS Secretary must decide whether to issue renewals or terminations 60 days before expiration,3 decisions on TPS extensions for Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras will likely occur May 2017, January 2018, and November 2017, respectively.

▪  Deporting all Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS holders would cost taxpayers $3.1 billion dollars.

▪Ending TPS for these three countries would result in a $6.9 billion reduction to Social Security and Medicare contributions over a decade.

▪  Ending TPS for these three countries would lead to a $45.2 billion reduction in GDP over a decade.

▪  The wholesale lay-off of the entire employed TPS population from these three countries would result in $967 million of turnover costs, e.g. costs employers incur when an employee leaves a position.

▪  The loss in GDP and turnover costs would be felt most acutely in the locations where Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Haitians are primarily located, including major metropolitan areas in Florida, New York, California, Texas, Maryland, and Virginia.

Click HERE for the original report.

32BJ SEIU Responds to USCIS’ Recommendation to End Temporary Protected Status for Haitians

April 20, 2017 - 08:38
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Media contact: Ana Tinsly, amtinsly@seiu32bj.org646-331-476532BJ SEIU RESPONDS TO USCIS’ RECOMMENDATION TO END TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR HAITIANS (NEW YORK) On Thursday, April 20, 2017, as reported in USA Today, the USCIS has recommended that the US end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians by next January.The following response can be attributed to Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU:“The USCIS’ recommendation to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians is unconscionable and oblivious to the dire conditions that exist in Haiti today. The country is still reeling from multiple disasters, including the 2010 earthquake that left tens of thousands homeless; a cholera epidemic; and Hurricane Mathew, a category 4 hurricane that cost Haiti $2.7 billion and left half a million children without safe drinking water. It flies in the face of reason to think that Haiti could safely assimilate 50,000 people when there are still 60,000 earthquake survivors who are homeless and living in camps.“Not only would this destabilize the country, it would also have vast negative consequences on our economy here at home. Haitian TPS holders contribute $280 million a year to our GDP. Some are small business owners and many others are an integral part of the companies that they work for. What will happen to local economies in Miami, New York, or Boston when small mom and pop Haitian businesses suddenly board up? What about the millions that employers will have to spend to hire and retrain new staff? Worse still, what will happen to the families that will be ripped apart and children who will be left behind?“It is with good reason that a bipartisan coalition of elected officials, including Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, have publicly stated their support of TPS. They recognize the chaos that ending it would create in the communities that they represent.“We strongly urge DHS Secretary Kelly to reject the USCIS’ recommendation and extend TPS to the thousands of vulnerable Haitians that have been living in and contributing to this country. Doing so would avert a humanitarian disaster and reflect the US’ tradition of protecting people from unsafe conditions that are outside of their control.”###
With more than 163,000 members in 11 states and Washington DC, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.

Haitian Government Seeks to Rebuild National Military

April 19, 2017 - 07:14

In the wake of the UN’s decision to withdraw its military peacekeepers from Haiti, the Haitian government is now faced with questions about what, if any, military force should replace them to avoid a security vacuum. Haiti’s national army has been disbanded for 22 years, and, for many Haitians, the thought of reconstituting an army brings back memories of the political repression and destabilization associated with the prior military regime. Thus, while many Haitians do support the idea, others fear it will quickly become politicized and thwart Haiti’s democratic progress.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

With End of UN Mission Ahead, Haiti Seeks to Revive Its Military

Voice of America (Associated Press)

April 19, 2017

GRESSIER, HAITI — Their heads held high and chests puffed out, nearly 100 Haitian men in camouflage fatigues do jumping jacks or march around an abandoned U.N. compound on a recent morning. But after a few drills, they seek shelter from the blazing sun in the absence of anything else to do.

As U.N. military peacekeepers prepare for a full exit from this Caribbean nation, this small engineering corps is the first wave of Haiti’s efforts to try to revive a military force 22 years after a national army was disbanded. While Haiti is a long way off from having a real military, these initial efforts to build up a defense force at whatever level excites some and unnerves others.

“We’re proud Haitians and we want to make the nation stronger,” said Lieutenant Ted Tesnor Wolsby, a base commander in the brigade that has received months of military training in Ecuador but has only intermittent duties fixing irrigation ditches or roads back in Haiti for salaries starting at $318 a month.

Click HERE for the original arcticle.

UN Poisoning of Roma in Kosovo Mirrors Haiti Cholera

April 18, 2017 - 17:43

When Roma families moved onto land contaminated with lead, health experts warned the United Nations that the land was toxic and the families should be relocated. Even so, the residents were left there for years accumulating health problems, especially among expecting mothers, children and the elderly, because of the toxic soil and dust in the region. For perhaps a decade, victims of this poisoning and their advocates have been seeking an apology and compensation from the UN but their efforts have been frustrated just like the efforts of cholera victims and their advocates: If the UN goes too far in acknowledging its responsibility, it may be legally bound to actually pay for its negligence.

Part of the article is below. Read the full text here.

Roma Sickened in U.N. Camps Are Still Waiting for Redress

Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

April 18, 2017

A panel of United Nations human rights advisers urged the global organization more than a year ago to publicly apologize and compensate hundreds of ethnic Roma who were poisoned by lead waste in decrepit camps run by its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. But it is increasingly unclear whether the Roma, also known as Gypsies, will get even an apology.

A draft statement that would “sincerely apologize” for the poisoning and other problems that the panel attributed to negligence by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, known as Unmik, has been under revision since March, according to people in and outside the United Nations who are knowledgeable about the deliberations.

Those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were talking about internal United Nations discussions, also said that the precise mechanism and amount of any financial remedy, should there be one, had not been determined.

The main obstacle, they said, was the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs’ objections to any language in the statement that could be construed as acknowledging liability. A copy of the draft statement was obtained by The New York Times.

 

Read the full text here.

Extending TPS for Haitians Should be a Clear “Yes”

April 18, 2017 - 16:17

The Editorial Board of the Sun Sentinel joins Sunday’s editorial by Miami Herald, as well as letters from several Congresspersons urging the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. Haitians in the US were granted TPS in 2010 when an earthquake devastated the country, making it inhumane to send them back. Conditions in Haiti have worsened, with Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 leading to an ongoing food crisis, cholera brought by UN peacekeepers in 2010 still rampant, sexual abuse by the peacekeepers and general political instability. But the deadline for TPS is July 22 and there are no signs of whether the Trump administration plans to extend it again. Not only the Haitians with TPS but also their children who were born American and their families who are receiving remittances in Haiti are in an uncertain situation now. TPS should be extended ASAP.

More calls for TPS extension here.

Read the full editorial here.

Extend protection for Haitian immigrants | Editorial

Editorial Board, Sun Sentinel

April 18, 2017

Some 50,000 Haitians who have enjoyed a reprieve from deportation since 2010 are about to find out if President Donald Trump’s tough talk on immigration is sincere. No doubt they are hoping his campaign rhetoric on immigration is as constant as his stance on NATO, Russia, Chinese currency manipulation, Syria interest rates and globalism.

The Haitians in question had the good fortune to be in the United States when a massive earthquake struck the impoverished island nation on Jan. 12, 2010. In a humanitarian gesture, the Department of Homeland Security invited Haitians living in the U.S. to apply for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS in the department’s jargon.

The TPS program was invented to help people in precisely this set of circumstances, 18 months at a time.

 

Read the full editorial here.

 

Miami Herald Urges Extension of TPS for Haitians

April 15, 2017 - 09:25

The Miami Herald Editorial Board is joining in calls for the United States to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. TPS was first granted for Haitians on January 15, 2010, following the deadly earthquake of January 12. It has been extended continuously ever since but now the expiration date of July 22 is fast approaching with no indication of what will happen next and over 50,000 Haitians at risk of deportation if TPS isn’t extended. Haiti is still reeling from Hurricane Matthew, the UN cholera epidemic and even remaining damage from the 2010 earthquake. The government is in no position to handle deportees. There has been a bipartisan effort to extend TPS with letters signed by: Senators Nelson, Rubio, Schumer and Gillibrand; and Representatives Curbelo, Deutch, Diaz-Balart, Frankel, Hastings, Love, Ros-Lehtinen, Wasserman Schultz and Wilson.

Part of the editorial is below. Read the full text here.

Extend Temporary Protected Status for eligible Haitians

Editorial Board, Miami Herald

April 15, 2017

Change is coming at Haiti and its people at a furious pace: Thursday, the U.N. Security Council voted to end its 13-year peacekeeping operation there. Haiti has a new president, its third democratically elected leader since 2006. The United States has a new president, too, which could affect policy.

But one thing hasn’t changed when it comes to the poorest nation in this hemisphere — the need for the United States to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to allow the more than 50,000 covered Haitians living in this country to stay. Sending them home will do far more harm to Haiti than good to the United States.

Read the full text here.

Unanimous Vote Brings End to MINUSTAH

April 13, 2017 - 10:45

Today, the UN Security Council voted to end the MINUSTAH peacekeeping mission after a 13-year presence in Haiti. But, the end of this mission does not mean the end of the UN’s influence in the country. The vote determined that MINUSTAH will be replaced by a smaller police mission, which is intended to promote the rule of law and human rights. MINUSTAH has been plagued by controversy since it began its mission, and, despite what may happen with the future mission, many in Haiti are happy to see it go.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

UN to Close Haiti Peacekeeping Mission in October

Margaret Besheer, Voice of America News

April 13, 2017

The United Nations Security Council took action Thursday to begin shutting down its 13-year-old peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

The current 5,000-strong mission will begin drawing down its troops and transition in mid-October to a smaller force of just over 1,200 police personnel. It will focus on the rule of law, building Haitian police capacities and monitoring human rights.

“As the stabilization mission in Haiti draws down and the new mission gears up, the Haitian people will be set on the path of independence and self-sufficiency,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told council members.

The council said in its unanimously agreed resolution that the transition recognizes “the major milestone towards stabilization achieved” with the peaceful transfer of power in elections held in February.

Click HERE for the original article.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley Presses for UN Accountability

April 13, 2017 - 06:51

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addressed the UN Security Council (UNSC) Thursday after the UNSC voted to withdraw MINUSTAH in October and replace it with a much smaller police force. UN peacekeepers have been getting away with sexual abuse because it is up to their home countries to prosecute them for their crimes. This is even true for the 134 Sri Lankan troops who ran a sex ring in Haiti with nine children as young as 12: Not one was jailed and Sri Lanka continued sending peacekeepers to Haiti. As professor Mark Schuller says: “The U.N. is not accountable to the Haitian government or people. That creates a culture of implied immunity.”

U.S. Envoy Says U.N. Peacekeepers Must Be Punished for Sexual Abuse

Edith M. Lederer and Paisley Dodd, TIME

April 13, 2017

(UNITED NATIONS) — U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday urged all countries that provide troops for U.N. peacekeeping missions to hold soldiers accountable for sexual abuse and exploitation, an appeal that came after she cited an Associated Press investigation into a child sex ring in Haiti involving Sri Lankan peacekeepers.

She also warned that “countries that refuse to hold their soldiers accountable must recognize that this either stops or their troops will go home and their financial compensation will end.”

Haley was speaking after the Security Council voted unanimously to end the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti in mid-October, sending a strong signal that the international community believes the impoverished Caribbean nation is stabilizing after successful elections.

But the peacekeepers will leave with a tarnished legacy. U.N. troops from Nepal are widely blamed for introducing cholera that has killed at least 9,500 people in Haiti since 2010 and some troops have been implicated in sexual abuse.

“What do we say to these kids? Did these peacekeepers keep them safe?” Haley asked, citing the AP’s investigation detailing how at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers sexually abused and exploited nine Haitian children between 2004 and 2007.

Sri Lanka never jailed any soldiers implicated in the abuse yet the country was allowed to send troops to other U.N. missions.

Haley said after the vote that while the departure of the peacekeepers “is seen as a success, unfortunately it’s a nightmare for many in Haiti who will never be able to forget and live with brutal scars.”

Nine children in the Haiti sex ring — some as young as 12 — told U.N. investigators how Sri Lankan peacekeepers offered them snacks or money for sex. One boy said he slept with as many as 100 soldiers, averaging about four per day.

The details of the sex ring were part of a larger AP investigation of U.N. missions during the past 12 years that found an estimated 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and U.N. personnel around the world.

In Haiti, the 2,370 military personnel will gradually leave over the next six months. A new peacekeeping mission will follow for an initial period of six months, comprised of just 1,275 police to continue training the national police force and assist in developing the rule of law and promoting human rights in Haiti.

Haley said the United States and the international community are committed to Haiti’s “democratic development, independence and economic growth.”

“We will, however, continue to push for accountability of those troops in Haiti as well as all troop contributing countries involved in peacekeeping efforts,” she said.

“We owe it to the vulnerable in these countries who desperately need peace and security,” she told Security Council members. “I ask that you join me in this effort.”

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse and exploitation be court martialed in the countries where the alleged incidents take place and said the U.N. would withhold payments to peacekeepers facing credible allegations.

Responding to the AP report, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric had said Wednesday: “We need to address the problem, first, for the victims, but also to ensure that the perception of peacekeeping is not a wrong one.”

He stressed it is dangerous work done honorably by “the vast majority” of peacekeepers.

Mark Schuller, an academic studying what happens when international organizations leave countries like Haiti, said for Haitians, the U.N. has garnered a “love-hate” relationship, but the real issue is lack of accountability.

“The U.N. is not accountable to the Haitian government or people. That creates a culture of implied immunity,” said Schuller, a professor at N. Illinois University’s Department of Ethnology who spends part of his time in Haiti.

Jacqueline Nono said she was 17 when she started having sex with a Sri Lankan peacekeeper for money or gifts. She said the sex was consensual but she needed the money to pay for her two children.

“I’ve heard the stories about Sri Lankans abusing Haitians, but I was treated well,” said the 24-year-old in Port-au-Prince.

For Jean-Marie Pascal, there is no love lost for the United Nations.

She said a U.N. peacekeeper sexually assaulted her shortly after troops arrived in 2004 to quell instability following President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s ouster. After the 2010 earthquake struck, her two cousins died from a strain of cholera linked to U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal.

“Haiti has been a playground for the United Nations,” the 43-year-old shop assistant told the AP as part of its investigation.

The United Nations also suffered in Haiti, losing nearly 100 peacekeepers and personnel in the 2010 earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people.

Dodds reported from London. Associated Press writers David McFadden in Port-au-Prince Haiti and Jennifer Peltz at the United Nations contributed to this report.

See the original article.

AP Investigation Highlights UN’s Inability to Bring Justice for Sex Abuse Victims

April 12, 2017 - 09:05

Trish Wilson is the international investigators editor who oversaw a recent Associated Press investigation into UN sex abuse in Haiti. AP uncovered a sex ring involving at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, who exploited and abused 9 Haitian children over a period of three years. The UN had conducted an internal investigation into this ring; UN officials interviewed the children and confirmed their allegations of horrific abuse. However, the UN lacks jurisdiction to prosecute or punish its peacekeepers, and responsibility falls on perpetrators’ home countries. Thus, despite corroboration of the victims’ experiences, the peacekeepers faced few repercussions and were largely held unaccountable for the crimes, continuing a culture of impunity within the UN.

Part of the interview is shown below. Click HERE for the original interview.

UN peacekeepers accused of thousands of cases of abuse, AP finds

PBS NewsHour

April 12, 2017

JUDY WOODRUFF: The peacekeeping force deployed by the United Nations has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. That is due in no small part to past allegations of sexual abuse by troops deployed in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

A new investigation by the Associated Press finds the problem of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers is wider and even more disturbing than previously known.

Hari Sreenivasan has the story from our New York studios.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The AP found nearly 2,000 allegations of abuse and exploitation in the past 12 years. More than 300 of those cases involved children. And since the U.N. cannot punish peacekeepers from other countries, only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators served jail time.

The AP also spoke with officials in 23 countries who had troops serving as peacekeepers and were accused of these violations.

Trish Wilson is the international investigators editor who oversaw the AP story.

Ms. Wilson, thanks for joining us.

How did you come upon the investigations that were under way by the U.N.?

Click HERE for the original interview.

Hurricane Matthew Affects Agricultural Production & Raises Concerns for Future

April 12, 2017 - 08:05

Many families in Haiti are struggling to get by and meet their basic needs, amidst a rising food shortage months after Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc in the southern part of the country. Experts warn that the situation could be approaching a famine, and it will continue to deteriorate in the coming months if production does not increase this growing season. Authorities have not done enough to alleviate the crisis; the availability of shelter and food is still far below the demand. And, while initial humanitarian responses did help with providing food and water, the efforts did not focus enough on rebuilding agricultural capacity and helping Haitians regain their livelihoods. Now, months after the storm, many worry that Hurricane Matthew’s destruction will continue to be felt for a long time to come.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Six months after Hurricane Matthew, food, shelter still scarce in Haiti

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 12, 2017

Six months after Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti’s southern peninsula, shelter and food remain scarce especially in remote, difficult-to-reach areas.

El-Mostafa Benlamlih, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator and head of the U.N. Development Program for Haiti, said he would not describe the situation as a famine but “it could get close to that” if nothing is done and the hurricane-ravaged areas miss another planting season.

“If now we miss this one, this season, which is the main season for agriculture … then we will be in deep trouble in May, June and July,” Benlamlih said in a Miami Herald interview. “There are pockets of food insecurity particularly in remote areas…[People] don’t eat enough. They have to use coping strategies like drop one meal or send the kids to the uncle or family in Port-au-Prince. That’s what they are trying to do to survive.”

Click HERE for the original article.

Hundreds of United Nations Peacekeepers Get Away with Sexual Exploitation

April 12, 2017 - 07:28

While the United Nations would say its peacekeepers went to Haiti in 2004 to protect the people, many Haitians would disagree. That is especially true for the children and women who were sexually abused and exploited by UN peacekeepers from that first year, all the way to now, 12 years later. UN peacekeepers have been involved in gang rapes, exchanging food for sex and more with children as young as 9 and often for a few years in a row. Women have been left pregnant by peacekeepers to raise fatherless children on budgets that can’t support the family. According to UN data and interviews, the peacekeepers have been from Bangladesh, Brazil, Jordan, Nigeria, Uruguay and Sri Lanka; and there were likely more countries involved even before the report was compiled. Victims of peacekeepers often don’t report these incidents because they know that the way the system is set up – with peacekeepers being sent back to their home countries to be (most likely not) prosecuted – they aren’t likely to get justice and may even meet their attackers again after reporting them. This cycle of impunity must be stopped! As BAI’s Mario Joseph says, “Human rights aren’t just for rich white people.”

Part of the article is below. Read the full text here.

AP Exclusive: UN child sex ring left victims but no arrests

Paisley Dodds, The Associated Press

April 12, 2017

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — In the ruins of a tropical hideaway where jetsetters once sipped rum under the Caribbean sun, the abandoned children tried to make a life for themselves. They begged and scavenged for food, but they never could scrape together enough to beat back the hunger, until the U.N. peacekeepers moved in a few blocks away.

The men who came from a far-away place and spoke a strange language offered the Haitian children cookies and other snacks. Sometimes they gave them a few dollars. But the price was high: The Sri Lankan peacekeepers wanted sex from girls and boys as young as 12.

“I did not even have breasts,” said a girl, known as V01 — Victim No. 1. She told U.N. investigators that over the next three years, from ages 12 to 15, she had sex with nearly 50 peacekeepers, including a “Commandant” who gave her 75 cents. Sometimes she slept in U.N. trucks on the base next to the decaying resort, whose once-glamorous buildings were being overtaken by jungle.

Read the full text here.

Amnesty International Demands Protection for Plaintiffs in U.S. Federal Lawsuit

April 12, 2017 - 07:18

The recent lawsuit against former Haitian mayor Jean Morose Viliena originally included three plaintiffs, who sought justice in the U.S. court system for human rights abuses perpetrated during Viliena’s term in office. However, just one day after filing the lawsuit, plaintiff Nissan Martyr became suddenly ill and died. While authorities have authorized an autopsy, there has been no investigation into the cause of death. His family and lawyers continue to demand a full investigation.

The remaining plaintiffs’ lives are at risk. They report death threats and fear they will be killed before getting the opportunity to testify against Viliena. Haitian authorities must immediately provide protection for the plaintiffs and their families and initiate an investigation into Martyr’s death.

Part of the report is shown below. Click HERE for the original Urgent Action report.

URGENT ACTION – Haiti: Human Rights Defenders’ Lives at Risk

Amnesty International

April 12, 2017

Human rights defenders David Boniface and Juders Ysemé fear for their lives following the sudden death of their colleague, Nissage Martyr, one day after service of a lawsuit filed by the three men in the US for grave human rights violations against Jean Morose Viliena, the former mayor of their hometown in Haiti. The men have reported repeated death threats and attacks from the former mayor since 2007, and must be provided adequate protection.

Click HERE for the full Urgent Action report.

UN Lacks Credibility After Years of Failed Promises & Impunity

April 12, 2017 - 06:27

The UN Security Council is set to vote today on the future of the UN in Haiti and what, if anything, should replace the current peacekeeping mission. However, as the decision looms near, the UN continues its controversial legacy of injustice, exploitation and impunity in the struggling country. MINUSTAH has been heavily criticized for widespread sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable Haitians, which calls into question the UN’s immunity laws, its response to allegations and system for redress. Additionally, after 6 years of denying responsibility for the cholera outbreak that has killed over 10,000, the UN finally acknowledged its role in bringing the deadly disease to Haiti, but now struggles to fund its program to end cholera and compensate victims. Whatever the future might hold for the UN mission, though, one thing is certain; the UN must first right its wrongs in Haiti, or its lack of credibility and legitimacy will continue to thwart any intended progress now, and in the future.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

U.N. continues to stumble — badly — in Haiti

Lauren Carasik, Miami Herald

April 12, 2017

Nowhere is the United Nations’ lack of accountability more glaring than in Haiti. The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is responsible for causing a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands and for crimes, including sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), that have largely gone unpunished.

Thursday, as the Security Council votes on the future of MINUSTAH, it has a last chance to ensure that its mission’s legacy includes an accountable response for the harms it has caused. If the United Nations replaces MINUSTAH without doing right by Haiti, its successor mission, whose mandate will focus on promoting rule of law, will lack the credibility to succeed from its inception.

After six years of unconscionably denying its culpability in causing cholera, then-outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally accepted moral responsibility for the U.N.’s role and its “collective responsibility to deliver” relief. He announced the New Approach, a $400 million strategy comprising two tracks: the first focused on upgrading badly failing water, sanitation and health infrastructure systems; and the second entailing “a package of material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by cholera, centered on the victims and their families and communities.”

Click HERE for the original article.