Wednesday, February 17, 2010

News Roundup: Haiti

Some of the latest post-earthquake information, and some resources for those interested in finding out more.

*US sends mixed messages on Refugees
The United States is home to largest number of Haitians outside of Haiti, many of whom are legal permanent residents. Naturally, persons fleeing the disaster are likely to seek refuge in the US for reasons of family connections, strong networks for jobs and resources, as well as the historical and cultural ties between the two nations which stretch back centuries.

While the United States has accepted and plans to accept a number of Haitian refugees in cities such as Chicago, and Christie, NJ, it appears that the emphasis of the Obama administration is still on preventing illegal immigration rather than providing relief for survivors.

Two examples: the US Coast guard has taken an active role in preventing sea-born refugees from entering the US.
US Repatriates 88 Haitian Reugees off the coast of Florida

Worse, there has been talk of housing repatriated refugees in the dreaded Guatanamo Bay prison camp in the event of a mass influx. Read about that horrible, horrible idea here.

However, USCIS has granted an 18 month Temporary Protected Status to Haitian Refugees, which would allow them to temporarily legally reside in the United States, so long as appropriate paperwork is filed. But as past TPS recipients from Nicaragua and El Salvador can attest, a temporary solution can lead to years of uncertainty for its recipients (and their children), as well as difficulties with labor, education, and social rights.

*Debt Relief; Reparations in Store?
With promises by G7 Finance Ministers to help Haiti rebuild with grants and debt relief, international attention is finally focusing on the Haiti's historical odious debt to France and the United States. Naomi Klein sums up the arguments on Haiti's behalf passionately and succinctly in this recent article from The Nation.
Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor

Read about the promises from the G7 Ministers here. And for more information about Haitian debt and current campaigns, check out the Jubilee campaign.


-The Haiti Democracy Project
-The Haitian Studies Association
-The Daily Haitian Times

*All images from Don Lee, CBS News, do not use without permission*

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