Haitian workers fight racist deportations

Fighting racist deportation plans, Haitians went to federal district court in Brooklyn for a four-day hearing Jan. 7-10. Nine individuals, a community group and a Haitian newspaper are bringing suit against the U.S. government. They held a press conference Jan. 7 in front of the courthouse.

The aim of their suit is to force the Trump administration to drop plans to deny nearly 60,000 Haitians the right to live and work in the U.S. These Haitians currently do so under Temporary Protected Status.

“The Trump administration’s November 2017 decision to terminate Haiti’s TPS was immoral, racist and unconstitutional,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of the Family Action Network Movement. “It has thrown the lives of thousands [of] TPS recipients and their U.S.-born children in turmoil.” FANM is one of the plaintiffs in the suit. (Haïti-Liberté, Jan. 9)

Labor support for Haitian workers under TPS was voiced by Alison Hirsh, vice president of Service Employees union 32BJ. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) also spoke.

Ramped-up racism

While there is a long history of discrimination against Haitians in the U.S.,  President Trump has taken a shockingly low road. He has publicly made racist comments about Haiti, including his historically infamous categorization of Haiti and African nations as “s–thole countries.” This outrageous statement was made while meeting with congressional leaders specifically to discuss extending TPS protection for Haitians. (nbcnews.com, Jan. 11, 2018)

At the rally, Steven Forester, immigration policy coordinator at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said: “Haiti is a textbook case for why TPS is needed, due to three recent extraordinary catastrophes: the world’s deadliest cholera epidemic, 2016’s Hurricane Matthew [and 2017’s Hurricane Irma], and the devastating 2010 earthquake.” Cholera was brought to Haiti — twice — by the U.N. “peacekeeping” force.

These collective catastrophes have forced people to leave the island for work in the U.S. (Brooklyn Reader, Jan. 7)

Another plaintiff is the Haitian community newspaper, Haïti-Liberté, whose Jan. 9 statement was read at the press conference by its representative Jocelyn Gay:

“Since U.S. Marines first invaded Haiti a century ago, the U.S. has plundered and strong-armed our nation, leaving it impoverished and politically unstable. The U.S. has re-enslaved our people, first in the Marines’ corvées, today in cheap labor sweatshops. Through coups d’état or electoral shenanigans, Washington has imposed and supported dictators, like Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier, or neo-Duvalierist charlatans, like Michel Martelly and Jovenel Moïse, all of whom have plundered state coffers.

“However, the death and destruction caused by the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti shocked the world’s conscience.… The Obama administration was compelled to grant some 50,000 Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS).”

After mentioning the additional catastrophes of cholera and hurricanes, as well as Trump’s racism, Haïti-Liberté’s statement ended by urging Judge William Kuntz, who is hearing the case, to do the right thing and preserve Haitians’ TPS status.

Both the plaintiffs and the U.S. government will be allowed to submit additional material during the month of February. Judge Kuntz will then begin deliberations and issue his decision after March 1.


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