The Obama administration is preparing to resume routine removals of undocumented Haitian immigrants more than six years after suspending deportations following the Caribbean nation’s devastating January 2010 earthquake.
The announcement Thursday from U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, will have an immediate effect on how Haitians are processed when they arrive without documents at the San Ysidro border and other U.S. ports of entry.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Over 140 Haitian-American Groups and Leaders Warn Kerry:
Going ahead with fraudulent elections in Haiti “a recipe for unrest”
Boston, January 19 – 43 Haitian-American diaspora organizations, 34 political, religious and community leaders, and 66 other individuals wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry today criticizing “the unhelpful role the State Department has been playing in Haiti’s election crisis” and calling for a change of U.S. policy. The letter demonstrates the deep concern felt by Haitian-Americans about this crucial issue for Haiti’s future.
Going forward with the presidential runoff scheduled for January 24, as demanded by the U.S., “is a recipe for further upheaval and unrest,” the letter warns. Second-place presidential candidate Jude Célestin has declared that he will boycott the runoff vote against government-backed candidate Jovenel Moise, in light of serious doubts raised about the credibility of the electoral results.
“Pushing forward heedlessly with elections on January 24 will only deepen Haiti’s political crisis,” said City of North Miami Vice-Mayor Alix Desulme, one of the endorsers of the letter. “The country does not need another round of debilitating instability, it needs a legitimate government issued from fair and credible elections.”
Presidential, legislative and municipal elections held on August 9 and October 25 were marred by fraud and grave irregularities, which many claim favoured candidates close to President Michel Martelly. The letter states that U.S.-backed elections have produced “a fraudulent outcome, which disrespects the very idea of democracy and has led to the current impasse.” State Department officials in Haiti have publicly dismissed concerns about fraud and continue to press for the electoral cycle to be completed, the letter notes.
Among the 43 endorsing organizations, which come from diverse areas including 14 different states, are the National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals (NAAHP), the Alliance of Haitian Professionals (AHP), the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York (HALA-NY), and the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (HALA-NJ).
The letter urges Secretary Kerry to change the State Department’s “proceed regardless” attitude and support an independent, Haitian-led investigation, as demanded by Haitian religious leaders and civil society, as well as the editors of the Miami Herald and the New York Times. “The current situation reminds me of the Haitian proverb, ‘Two vit pa rive,’ which means ‘if you move too quickly, you will not arrive at your destination,’” remarked HALA-NJ President Wilson Antoine. “Slowing down the electoral process to allow for a full and independent investigation into fraud is necessary, so that a solid foundation can be laid today for a strong and vibrant democratic government tomorrow.”
The letter also urges the U.S. to support the recommendations of a recently-appointed Evaluation Commission, which called for major changes to Haiti’s electoral council and the establishment of a political dialogue among the relevant political actors. Meeting these “minimum conditions” for restoring faith in the electoral process must be made the top priority of U.S. policy in Haiti, the letter states, even if this means postponing the election or briefly appointing a transitional government.
“All too often, the U.S. has been eager to sacrifice democratic principles for the sake of an elusive ‘stability’,” said Pierre Imbert, former Director of the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants and an endorser of the letter. “We’re asking Secretary Kerry not to make this mistake again.”
“The time when the State Department could hand-pick a president for Haiti is over,” said Eugenia Charles, policy and communication director of the 1804 Institute. “Haitians want free and fair elections that will eventually free our country from systemic foreign domination.”
Individual endorsers include prominent Miami physicians Dr. J. P. Austin and Dr. Rudolph Moise, City of North Miami Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime, Florida Commissioner Mack Bernard, former Consul General of the Republic of Haiti in New York Harry Fouche, former City of North Miami Vice-Mayor Philippe Derose (the first Haitian-American elected to public office in the United States), Archdeacon J. Fritz Bazin of the Episcopal Diocese of South East Florida, Boston religious leader Pastor Dieufort Jean Fleurissaint, and Brooklyn Pastor Reverend Mullery Jean-Pierre.
This is not the first time members of the Haitian diaspora in the U.S. have spoken out on Haiti’s electoral crisis. On December 2, a coalition of Haitian-American organizations issued a statement backing calls for an independent investigation, and on December 23, Haitian-American activists organized a Congressional call-in day asking the U.S government to stop supporting Haiti’s violent and corrupt elections. In November, best-selling Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat published a scathing critique of Martelly’s elections and U.S. support for them in The New Yorker magazine. Congressional representatives Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Katherine Clark (D-MA) have responded to their constituents’ appeals with letters to Secretary Kerry calling for free and fair elections in Haiti.
We are pleased to share an important update regarding the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program with you:
Next round of HFRP program invitations to be issued in mid- to late November 2015
With the help of the U.S. Department of State National Visa Center, USCIS will issue the next round of invitations to apply for theHFRP Program in mid- to late November 2015.
HFRP Program: The HFRP Program allows certain eligible Haitian beneficiaries of family-based immigrant visa petitions approved on or before Dec. 18, 2014, to be paroled into the United States before their immigrant visa priority dates become current. Once paroled into the United States, these beneficiaries will be able to apply for work permits while waiting for their immigrant visas to become available. Once their visas are available, they can apply for lawful permanent resident status (Green Card).
Invitations for the HFRP Program: Invitations will be sent to petitioners of Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, that were approved on or before Dec. 18, 2014, if the immigrant visas for their beneficiary relatives in Haiti are expected to become available within approximately 18 – 36 months. The invitations will provide important information petitioners should consider as they determine if the program is right for them and their eligible family members. It will also include instructions on how to apply to the program.
Only individuals who receive an invitation will be eligible to apply for the HFRP Program on behalf of their family members. For additional information on the invitation process, please see uscis.gov/HFRP.
If you believe that you may be eligible for this program, please ensure that the Department of State‘s National Visa Center has your most current mailing and email address. You may update your mailing address by emailing the National Visa Center (NVC) at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing the Public Inquiry Form on the NVC’s website atwww.travel.state.gov.
To learn more about the HFRP Program, please visit uscis.gov/HFRP.
Make a tax-deductible donation to Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami on Thursday, November 20th, 2014 for The Miami Foundation's Give Miami Day! Your donation of $25 or more will be matched by The Miami Foundation and support FANM's efforts to continue providing quality, life-saving services to low-income families. http://givemiamiday.org/#npo/fanm-ayisyen-nan-miyami-inc
EVENT: Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson, FANM, faith and community leaders, Haitian Family Reunification Program Beneficiaries come together to discuss the newly creation of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program by the Obama administration.
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 10:30AM
LOCATION: Torch of Friendship, 301 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132
On October 17th, 2014, UCIS announced the creation of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, a bi-partisan measure which the Haitian-American community has been fighting for since after the 2010 earthquake. This program will speed up Haiti's recovery and relieve some of the despair which leads people to risk their lives in high seas to get to the U.S. As this campaign comes to an end, leaders are now focusing on implementation. Said Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson: “All of the hard work and advocacy has paid off. This is a great win for my Congressional District which is home to the largest Haitian community in the U.S. I look forward to personally welcoming and rolling out the red carpet to the first wave of recipients of this program.”
The Obama administration said Friday that starting in 2015 it would reduce the lengthy delays facing thousands of Haitians who have already been approved to join family members in the United States and become legal permanent residents.
Currently, American citizens or permanent residents living in this country may apply for a residency visa, known as a green card, on behalf of relatives in Haiti. More than 100,000 such relatives have been approved but, because of annual caps, some of them face wait times of up to a dozen years before they can receive visas.
Speeding family reunification has been a goal of Haitian immigrant groups and supported by both Republican and Democratic politicians in Florida. A similar policy already exists for Cuban families.
NATIONAL COALITION CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO REUNITE 110,000 HAITIAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES
Immigrant Rights Organizations Launch Campaign to Create Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program to Expedite 110,000 Visas
Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyam has partnered with the Black Immigration Network and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration to create a petition for the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. Please take a moment to sign the petition and help us urge the Obama adminstration to reunite Hatian family members already approved for Family-Based Immigrant Visas with their family members in the United States.
On Friday, May 2, 2014, the Florida House of Representatives just passed House Bill (HB) 851 with an overwhelming majority of 84-32!
After nearly a decade of advocating for in-state tuition for all Florida residents regardless of status, the Florida Legislature just made history!
We have now joined the ranks of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington!
We now have one final step, Gov. Scott must sign the bill and make it law! Over 17,000 supporters from throughout the country have e-mailed Gov. Scott demanding he lead the way for in-state tuition! The future of Florida is now in his hand.
Sign this petition to continue to put the pressure on Gov. Rick Scott to sign House Bill (HB) 851: http://bit.ly/eduforall
Click through to read the story and see the photo gallery of the rally.
WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Haiti for an additional 18 months, effective July 23, 2014 through Jan. 22, 2016.
Current Haitian beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS status must re-register during a 60-day period that runs from March 3, 2014, through May 2, 2014. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day period begins. USCIS will not accept applications before March 3, 2014.
The 18-month extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Eligible Haitian TPS beneficiaries who re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of Jan. 22, 2016. USCIS recognizes that some re-registrants may not receive their new EADs until after their current EADs expire. Therefore, USCIS is automatically extending current TPS Haiti EADs bearing a July 22, 2014 expiration date for an additional six months. These existing EADs are now valid through Jan. 22, 2015.
By GINGER THOMPSON and SARAH COHENAPRIL 6, 2014
With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace, the president has said the government is going after “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.”
But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.
"Continuing deportations to Haiti violations the basic fundamental rights of the deportees."
- Marleine Bastien, March 11, 2014 at the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
Marleine Bastien speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland:
READ THE FULL STORY
“When it comes to Haitians, Marleine Bastien is one of the most passionate and articulate spokespersons in Miami,” Leroy Jones, Executive Director of NANA and Tools for Change said. “From the early 90s until now, if a Haitian boat filled with Haitians came to our shores, Ms. Bastien was there. After ‘wet-foot dry-foot’ started, she yelled even louder about the injustices. ”
MIAMI—FEBRUARY 25, 2014—South Florida’s minority communities, along with human rights organizations, will hold a rally in response to the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court’s ruling and the country’s new immigration policy. The Dominican court’s decision, known as ruling 168-13, could affect as many as 300,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent, including many who have had no ties with Haiti for generations. For years, Haitians have been mistreated, abused, victimized, and taken advantage of by the Dominican Republic.
WHO: FANM, the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, the Haitian League for Human Rights, the Haitian-American Forum, Florida New Majority, Haitian-American Leadership Council, and Veye Yo.
WHAT: Rally against the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court’s ruling and the country’s new immigration policy, which will be announced on February 27.
WHEN: Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 10:30 am
WHERE: 181 N.E. 82nd Street
Miami, Florida 33138
CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE DETAILS
Recognizing her exemplary social service and advocacy work, the US Human Rights Network awarded FANM founder and Executive Director Marleine Bastien with the 2013 US Human Rights Movement Builders Award.
The prestigious award recognizes work in the US to advance human rights for all people.
For a full description of the award and program, please visit the US Human Rights Network.
“I believe that xenophobia and racism is at the roots of their decision which does not make any sense since DR firms have been getting most of the construction contracts in Haiti in additions to reaping billions from sales in the Haiti-Dominican frontier,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director, Haitian Women of Miami. “Haitians have been used has cheap labor for generations . . . their sweat and blood and courage have built the Dominican Republic infrastructure. Yet, Haitians have been used as scapegoats for generations, subjected to gross human rights abuses and violations. They are forced to live in conditions not fit for human beings. I strongly support a global economic boycott. That is the only language that they will understand. Nothing else. The Haitian government also needs to take a firm position against the continued butchering of its citizens in the Dominican Republic. Thirty people have been killed, hatched to death in Neiba. What explains this silence in the face of these massacres?
FANM contributed to Debt Relief for Haiti, Let Haiti Live , and the universal health campaigns
FANM contributed to the following statewide campaigns: Small Class Size (For), Arizona Style Law in Florida (Against), Better Staff/Patient Ratio and Working Conditions for RNs, LPN, and Nurses Aid with SEIU (For)
FANM contributed to the following campaigns:
Livable wage, the Children’s Trust (both campaigns) , the human rights ordinance, affordable housing, wage theft, save Jackson Memorial Hospital (ongoing) , save Little Haiti (ongoing), justice for Trayvon Martin (on-going)
In collaboration with other local and national organizations, FANM successfully advocated to add Haiti on the list of countries to the H2-A and H2-B Visa Program. On January 18, 2012, The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in consultation with the Department of State have published a list of 58 countries whose citizens are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs for 2012 .
The H-2A visa program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign workers to the U.S to fill temporary agricultural jobs while the H-2B visa program enables U.S. employers to offer employment to foreign nationals for temporary non-agricultural positions.
Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (F.A. N.M. ) is leading the campaign for Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program .
F.A.N.M. has been organizing locally and nationally for 28 months in favor of Haitian Family Reunification Parole for Haitians. Our position is that DHS should create a “Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program” or start promptly paroling some of the 105,193 Haitian beneficiaries of DHS-approved family-based visa petitions whose wait time in Haiti averages 4 to 11 years.
Since the January 2010 earthquake, many including the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the Global Development Fund have urged DHS and the President to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (FRPP) to promptly parole these DHS-approved beneficiaries into the United States.
This would save lives, reunite families, and speed recovery by generating additional remittances to thousands in Haiti. Under DHS’s recently renewed Cuban FRPP, over 30,000 beneficiaries have been paroled since 2009 alone. No congressional action is needed to parole approved Haitians. The measure has bi-partisan support, yet while President Obama is addressing all other issues including gay marriage, he’s ignored all pleas for HFRPP. Our message to President Obama is: We may not have millions but we have our votes. Approve the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program now.
Our question to President Obama is: If not now, when?
Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (F.A.N.M.) led the campaign for Temporary Protected Status for 3 years , organizing locally and nationally. FANM organized over a dozen rallies in collaboration with organizations in Dade , Broward and especially West Palm Beach—2 of them were held in front of the White House . F.A.N.M, subsequently organized and successfully advocated for TPS extension and expansion to include Haitians who arrived after the earthquake .
Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. has been organizing locally and nationally around the DREAM ACT for 10 years now. Additionally, FANM’s Executive Director Marleine Bastien and other members traveled to Washington several times to advocate for the DREAM ACT with Members of the Miami Dade County and City of Miami Community Relation Board , The Chamber of Commerce, The Hatian-American Grassroots Coalition, Florida Immigrant Coalition, the Haitian-American Youth of Tomorrow, Guatemalan United, Unidad Hondurena among others.
Ms. Bastien served as a mentor to young HAYOT members during several Washington trips when HAYOT Executive Director Carline Paul was unable to travel. Marleine Bastien also wrote several articles advocating both issues.
The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act grants permanent residence to Haitians who has been in the U.S. on or before December 31, 1995.
Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami Inc. (F.A.N.M) led the fight for HIRFA resulting in the biggest contingent of participants ( 1,000 from Miami) to a demonstration which brought thousands to Washington D.C. composed of Haitians and their supporters . The demonstration held March 23, 1998 was considered the determining factor in HIRFA’s final success. F.A.N.M. organized at the grassroots level for 3 long years.
Our clients learned the ABC’s of successful organizing in addition to learning about U.S. Congress..how it works, how it functions…how to identify lawmakers…how to approach them…how to make an effective 2 minutes presentation. After the demonstration, Haitians for the first time went to the Hill to advocate on their own behalf. In the past, other leaders went to Congress and came back to report to community members. For the first time in the community’s history, the members were empowered and given the tools to advocate on their own behalf. FANM gave them a voice and Washington heard them loud and clear. One of FANM’s bedrock principles is: the best advocates..the best organizers are those who are directly impacted.
We believe in giving our clients the tools to organize, mobilize and succeed versus just giving them what they need. (please see the New Times Article: The Catalyst by Kathy Glascow November 5th, 1998, Florida Immigrant Coalition Board President Marleine Bastien and Bishop of Orlando Testify Before Congress, May 23, 2007, FANM Testified in Congress on Immigration Reform, Haiti Reborn, Marleine Bastien of FANM Testified in Congress, Friendship Office of the Americas, Testimony of Marleine Bastien, Executive Director , Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami.
F.A.N.M organized locally and nationally to persuade President Clinton to approve DED to protect Haitians who will eventually qualify for HRIFA from deportation. Many in the administration resisted claiming that DED would open a floodgate of Haitians coming from Haiti by boat.
F.A.N.M, in collaboration with the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition argued that there was no precedence for such position in meetings with Immigration officials, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and many others in the Clinton administration.
On December 23, 1997 President Clinton agreed to defer for one year the deportation of Haitian nationals who were paroled before Dec. 31, 1995 and/or who filed for asylum.There was no floodgate from Haiti after DED was approved and implemented.
FANM has led the fight to stop deportation to Haiti for 20 years. FANM Executive Director Marleine Bastien has been engaged in the struggle for the past 30 years. She joined the fight for equal treatment and due process for Haitian refugees two days after arriving in the U.S. from Haiti under the leadership of the late Father Gerard Jean-Juste.
However, since the demise of the Haitian Refugee Center, F.A.N.M has taken the leadership in fighting for the right of due process and equal treatment for Haitian refugees and immigrants . Two years ago, FANM joined forces with the University of Miami Human Rights Clinic ,The University of Miami Immigration Clinic, Alternative Chance and several others to protest deportations of Haitians to Haiti after the earthquake which killed 250,000 people.
The fight to stop deportation to Haiti intensified after one such detainee Wildrick Guerrier died a few days after being deported to Haiti in 2011 of cholera-like symptoms. FANM Executive Director Marleine Bastien met with and testified twice in 2011 and 2012 in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the conditions of Haitian deportees. She traveled to Haiti in February 2011 and February 2012 to document in country conditions and the plight of Haitian deportees.
Immigration and Reform Control Act of 1986 is a blanket amnesty that benefited 2.7 million undocumented immigrants. It is FANM’s belief that no human being is illegal.
Executive Director Marleine Bastien participated in the campaign for the passage of IRCA as a young paralegal and advocate at the Haitian Refugee Center. She participated in several trainings to assist in IRCA’s implementation, translated rules and regulations in Creole for the Haitian Refugee Center and Haitian radios to spread the words and encourage those eligible to complete their applications. She volunteered her time after hour and weekends to give interviews on Creole radios, made presentations in churches in Miami, Fort-Lauderdale, Lake Worth and Belle Glade.
In February 2012, Marleine Bastien and partners from the UM Law’s Human Rights Clinic traveled to Haiti to conduct field research. The team documented the experiences of Haitians who have been deported from the U.S. since the earthquake in 2010. Information from the trip will be used to continue to urge the U.S. Government to immediately stop deportations to Haiti until the country can recover from the earthquake. FANM, UM Law’s Human Rights Clinic, and several other partners have been active in calling attention to this issue in the U.S. Congress and with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The team also visited several tent camps, where some deportees and many others are living under constant threat of eviction. Children and teens in the tent camps expressed their desire to attend school, but shared that they lacked the funds to pay tuition.
Veterans for Peace 2012 National Convention
Marleine Bastien talks about the rights of Haitian immigrants on a radio program.
After Hurricane Matthew, Haitians plead for the right to stay in U.S.
Cresonia Hsieh, Miami Herald
The painful images and news coming from Haiti after Hurricane Matthew hits home for Haitians living in Miami.
Buildings gone. Trees toppled. The return of cholera.
The destruction worries people in Little Haiti. The grim situation prompted about 100 community leaders to gather this week to make a plea to politicians: Halt deportations, grant temporary protection status and expand the Haitian Family Reunification Program for Haitians.
These appeals allow undocumented Haitians to either stay in the United States or welcome those affected by storm to make America their home.
The appeals come just 2 1/2 weeks after the Obama administration lifted the six-year moratorium on Haitian deportations due to “improved conditions” after the 2010 earthquake.
“We learned with shock and disbelief that the Obama administration was rescinding, and actually rescinded that policy of non-deportation,” said Marleine Bastien, the executive director for Fan Ayisyen nan Miyami (Haitian Women of Miami). “We know that Haiti has yet to recover because Haiti is still plagued with political instability, natural disasters — in addition to an imported cholera epidemic.”
Advocates for the changes say that Haitians deserve the same privileges as Cubans, who are allowed to stay in the United States because of the Cuban Adjustment Act’s “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy. The law allows Cubans who make it to U.S. ground to apply for residency a year and a day after their arrival date. Those intercepted in the water are deported.
“This is the old double standard,” said Steve Forester, immigration policy coordinator for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
Community leaders say that neither the Hillary Clinton campaign nor the Donald Trump campaign responded to their petition.
“Whether we vote Republican or Democrat, we goin’ to hell,” said Patrick Muhammad, a student minister for the Nation of Islam. “We’re not asking for special privileges. We’re asking for equal opportunity
Some of the most impassioned voices at a Monday briefing were family members of detainees in California.
One woman’s son was detained at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in California. Through tearful eyes and cracking voice, she expressed her distress.
“I don’t know how I’m able to stand in front of you,” said Marie Carole Jeune, through a translator “I’m really, really going through a tough time.”
The mother’s home was also destroyed in Haiti. Her son is being detained at the Imperial “Regional Detention Facility.
The community is now asking those who want to help their cause to sign their petition. As of Monday, they still needed more than 99,500 signatures to reach their goal of 100,000.
Donations also are being accepted at 100 NE 84th St. in Miami for medications and basic essentials incdcluding water, diaper and bandages. The nonprofit is also accepting monetary, tax-deductible donations at www.fanm.org.