Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Syndicate content
IJDH.org
Updated: 2 hours 14 min ago

IJDH And 37 Organizations Urge Sec. John Kelly to Visit Post-Earthquake IDPs During His Four-Hour Trip to Haiti

May 30, 2017 - 09:22

The Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is scheduled to arrive in  Haiti today for a four-hour visit. The 38 organizations who wrote Sec. Kelly hope that he will reconsider his May 22 decision to only extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals for six months instead of 18 months. In an official statement, DHS did not mention TPS but stated that Sec. Kelly will meet with the Haitian President Jovenel Moïse “to discuss international cooperation and issues related to repatriation, as well as efforts to build Haiti’s maritime law enforcement capacity, and to encourage cooperation between the Dominican Republic and Haiti’s nascent border security unit.”

In their letter, the organizations provided Sec. Kelly with a list of individuals and organizations to talk to, and places to visit in order for him to have a better understanding of Haiti’s precarious conditions. Kelly’s four-hour trip already met with disappointment by advocacy groups who believe he should spend more time and visit more places like post-earthquake tent cities, cholera treatment centers or storm-ravaged areas that highlight the conditions of the country.

“That’s horrible,” said U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., “We asked him to go to Haiti and survey the conditions on the ground so that he can make an assessment as to Haiti’s ability to absorb deportees back to Haiti. This defeats the purpose.” similarly, Steven Forester,  IJDH’s Immigration Policy Coordinator, said: “Learning about the extraordinary blows Haitians have suffered requires an open mind and more than a quick ‘in-and-out’ visit to the palace.”

Call your representatives and senators to urge them to support TPS extension for Haitians. For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE to read the full article.

Will four hours in Haiti influence Homeland Security Secretary Kelly on TPS?

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

May 30, 2017

A week after the Department of Homeland Security gave thousands of Haitians just six more months to legally work and live in the United States, casting doubt on their fate after January, the department’s chief is headed to Haiti.

But don’t expect DHS Secretary John Kelly to visit any post-earthquake tent cities, cholera treatment centers, or the hurricane-ravaged and famine-plagued southern coast after he arrives in Port-au-Prince Wednesday afternoon.

Kelly’s visit, according to sources, will last just four hours, and he will remain on the grounds of the earthquake-destroyed National Palace. There, he will meet with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and other senior government officials, and the head of the soon departing United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Sandra Honoré.

“That’s horrible,” said U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who wrote to Kelly on May 22 inviting him to accompany her to Haiti after he opted to renew the Temporary Protected Status or TPS program for only an additional six months rather than the 18 months she and others had requested.

….

Click HERE to read the full article.

Cholera Victims’ Advocates Denounce UN’s Evasion of Responsibility in Kosovo

May 26, 2017 - 12:06

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (New York and Boston): media@ijdh.org, +617-652- 0876

Cholera Victims’ Advocates Denounce UN’s Evasion of Responsibility in Kosovo

BOSTON, May 26, 2017 –Advocates for cholera victims in Haiti condemned today’s UN statement indicating that the Organization refuses to comply with its own human rights panel’s findings that victims of lead poisoning in a UN displaced persons camp in Kosovo are entitled to compensation. Instead of the justice required by international law, the UN proposes providing victims with charitable community projects to the extent that the projects attract international funding.

“In Kosovo, as in Haiti, the UN is substituting charity for justice, evading its legal obligation to compensate by offering to ask other entities to fund charitable projects,” said Sienna Merope-Synge, an attorney with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), which has sued the UN in court over the cholera outbreak and led a global campaign for justice. “These projects will have certain public relations benefits for the UN, but a highly speculative benefit to the victims suffering from devastating harm caused by UN recklessness.”

Victims in Kosovo and Haiti have pursued years-long struggles to hold the UN– which claims leadership in building the rule of law– accountable for inflicting massive harm through reckless or negligent conduct.  In Kosovo, hundreds of people were poisoned by lead in UN displaced persons camps located on industrial sites known to be contaminated with heavy metals. In Haiti, 10,000 people have died after the UN recklessly introduced cholera through the discharge of contaminated human wastes into Haiti’s largest river system.

In both cases, victims sought compensation guaranteed by international law, and which the UN has repeatedly committed to providing in treaties, General Assembly resolutions, and Secretary-General reports. In both cases, the UN spent years and substantial resources tenaciously obstructing justice rather than addressing the harm it caused to vulnerable people it was charged with protecting.

“If the UN cannot honor its fundamental obligations to the people it has negligently injured and killed, than its professed commitments to human rights and dignity for all ring hollow. Advocates for cholera victims in Haiti stand in solidarity with victims in Kosovo who have once again been betrayed by the UN,” said Beatrice Lindstrom, Staff Attorney with IJDH.

After years of mounting pressure, in December the UN finally apologized for its role in the cholera outbreak and set up a trust fund to raise $400 million for cholera control and remedies for victims. Six months later, it has secured only 3% of the money promised, and appears to have no viable plan to raise the rest. After initially promising to consult victims on the forms of remedies they need, the UN increasingly seems to be foreclosing individual compensation and replacing it with a plan for charitable community projects.

“Secretary-General Guterres promised to promote a ‘culture of accountability’ at the United Nations” said Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Executive Director of IJDH. “But what he is delivering is a slap in the face, to the victims in Kosovo and in Haiti, but also to the UN’s own human rights systems, its Member States, and people all over the world who look to the organization to promote the rule of law.”

###

Advocates Decry UN Chief’s Lack of Urgency on Haiti Cholera 

May 25, 2017 - 13:35

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (New York and Boston): media@ijdh.org, +617-652- 0876

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (Port-au-Prince) : nicole@ijdh.org  +509-4875-3444

NEW YORK, BOSTON May 25, 2017—Advocates for victims of the UN-caused cholera epidemic in Haiti criticized a long-awaited report by Secretary-General António Guterres as a lackluster document symptomatic of a lackluster fundraising effort for the UN’s New Approach to Cholera in Haiti.  The $400 million plan, announced in December, has generated only 3% of the contributions needed. Secretary-General Guterres’ report, delivered on Tuesday, fails to even articulate a realistic plan for raising the balance of the funds.

“The report demonstrates that despite the UN’s promises, despite its cholera killing over 9,000 Haitians so far with hundreds more destined to die in 2017, responding to cholera is simply not one of the Secretary-General’s priorities,” said Brian Concannon Jr., Esq., Staff Attorney at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), which sued the UN over the cholera outbreak. “Mr. Guterres’ report outlines no real fundraising plan, shows no urgency, and is devoid of recognition that the UN’s credibility is on the line here.”

The Secretary-General’s report persistently clings to the existing unsuccessful funding approach, by requesting the UN General Assembly to “consider inviting individual member states to provide further voluntary financial and other appropriate support for the new approach.” It also asks that countries redirect funds left over in MINUSTAH’s budget to cholera treatment.  If successful, this would bring funding for the New Approach to 10%—barely half of what the UN says is needed to provide life-saving treatment this year alone.

“The cholera response is a sincerity test for the Secretary-General’s proclaimed commitment to UN accountability, and so far he is not passing it,” said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), and Haiti’s lead advocate for cholera victims. “Mr. Guterres must show the vigorous, principled and personal leadership needed to keep the UN’s promises to Haiti.”

Cholera, which was introduced to Haiti through reckless sanitation at a peacekeeping base, continues to take a grave toll in Haiti. The UN estimates that 30,000 more Haitians will fall sick this year, and the country remains vulnerable to a resurgence in deaths, with few improvements to water, sanitation and health care since the height of the epidemic. For the thousands of families who lost loved ones and livelihoods, cholera imposes a crushing burden long after the disease itself has passed.

Every day of delay in the UN response kills, on average, another Haitian, and inflicts continued misery on the most impoverished Haitians. “What is important is that the UN moves fast because our situation is so bad. Lots of girls cannot go to school because we had to sell land and livestock and go into debt to pay for cholera [treatment],” said one victim in Haiti’s rural central plateau, one of the areas hardest hit by the epidemic.

In 2016, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally conceded to mounting pressure by victims, advocates and the UN’s own human rights experts that the UN accept responsibility for introducing cholera, put an end to the epidemic, and provide justice to the victims.  In December, the former chief issued a public apology and launched the New Approach.

“The UN knows the suffering we have gone through and are still living with. Was it a declaration that Ban Ki-moon made for himself, or was it [stating] a real responsibility of the UN?” asked a victim in Saut d’Eau, Haiti.

MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, has spent $4.3 billion in Haiti since the outbreak of cholera—ten times the amount promised to respond to the disease. The UN has announced a new mission for October, that will focus on promoting justice and the rule of law.

###

Rep. Ted Deutch: DHS’s Six-Month TPS Extension “Leaves Haitian TPS-holders living in uncertainty”

May 25, 2017 - 09:53

The Representative of Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, Ted Deutch lambasted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s six-month Temporary Protected Status (TPS ) extension for Haitian nationals in an Op-Ed published by the Miami Herald.  Deutch urged  Secretary John Kelly to reconsider his decision, which he wrote, “should be based on humanitarian considerations — not arbitrary deadlines.”  The congressman added that  the DHS’s decision has done nothing than creating  fear and  unsease amongst Haitian TPS-holders. “This [decision] leaves Haitian TPS-holders living in uncertainty about whether they will be separated from their families and communities,”  Deutch wrote referring to the DHS’s disappointing decision.  Seven years after a 7.0 earthquake flattened Haiti’s capital, thousands of people continue to call makeshift tents and shelters their homes, and  the cholera outbreak introduced by the United Nations peacekeeping soldiers has not been put under control after killing thousands of people and  sickening thousands more. Haiti clearly is not ready to welcome thousands of its citizens who are currently residing in the United States.

For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website.

Click HERE to read the full op-ed.

Op-Ed: Six-Month Extension for Haitian TPS Is not  Enough

By U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch & Mark Fetfield, Miami Herald

May 25, 2017

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has made the right decision to extend temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians living in the United States. Deporting Haitians right now would have been disastrous for them and for Haiti, which is currently in no condition to accept them. At the same time, by promising them only six months of reprieve, and not providing any level of certainty as to whether their situation will be reconsidered in six months, the Haitian community in the United States will now live in fear that they only have until January before they face deportation.

A decision to end TPS for Haitians would have abruptly ended legal status for more than 50,000 Haitians who are working in this country and contributing to American communities. It would have cut off a lifeline of private support sent in the form of remittances, which is particularly important for Haiti, where money from family members living abroad accounts for 25 percent of the country’s GDP. Most dramatically, it would have caused tens of thousands of people to face deportation back to a country still recovering from numerous crises. This will remain true six months from now.

The DHS announcement this week stated that Kelly expects Haitian TPS-holders to use the next six months to “prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States,” with the implication that TPS will not continue for this population after January 22, 2018. This leaves Haitian TPS-holders living in uncertainty about whether they will be separated from their families and communities.

This is not how the United States should conduct humanitarian policy.

A form of humanitarian relief, TPS is a temporary immigration status the U.S. government can grant to foreign nationals in the United States who are unable to return safely to their home countries. This could be because of a natural disaster, such as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal; disease, as we saw with the Ebola outbreak in East Africa; or violence, like the civil war in Yemen. Extending TPS to people who can’t safely return home — and providing safe haven to them here in the United States — is one of the hallmarks of America’s humanitarian values.

 TPS was first granted to eligible Haitians who were in the United States when a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck their home country in 2010. In the seven years since, Haitian TPS-holders have been living safely — and thriving — in this country. They have become our neighbors, classmates, colleagues and friends. Many of them are nursing, psychiatric and home health aides. One out of five has a child who is a U.S. citizen.

During these same seven years, Haiti’s recovery has been undermined by drought, prolonged economic instability, public health crises, and natural disasters. Today, 1.65 million people in Haiti are at risk of cholera infection. The United Nations has been struggling to address the country’s humanitarian needs with incredibly limited funding. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew killed hundreds and affected the daily lives of almost 20 percent of the country’s population. The storm brought flooding and widespread destruction, and wiped out entire sectors of the agriculture, fishing and livestock industries. Recovery is ongoing and fragile, and we have no reason to believe that will fundamentally change in the foreseeable future. Threatening to send people back to a country so plagued with disaster and crisis would set a dangerous precedent.

In the coming months, TPS is also set to expire for over 186,000 Salvadorans and over 70,000 Hondurans. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center estimates that ending TPS for Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras would lead to a $45.2 billion reduction in United States’ GDP over a decade. Deporting TPS-holders from these three countries would cost U.S. taxpayers $3.1 billion.

In the past few weeks, faith leaders, physicians,humanitarian organizations, unions, members of Congress, mayors, governors, and the ambassador of Haiti to the U.S. all urged Kelly to continue TPS for Haiti. We are acutely aware of the stakes. Haiti is in no position to reintegrate tens of thousands of Haitian TPS-holders, and we are glad that DHS made the right decision in the short term.

Now, Kelly must demonstrate that the U.S. government develops policies based on humanitarian considerations — not arbitrary deadlines. In the meantime, we will continue to support policies that promote human rights, protect those who seek safety, and ensure that the United States does not send people back in harm’s way.

Click HERE to read the full op-ed.

U.S. REP. TED DEUTCH REPRESENTS FLORIDA’S 22ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. MARK HETFIELD IS PRESIDENT AND CEO OF HIAS, THE GLOBAL JEWISH NONPROFIT THAT PROTECTS REFUGEES.

 U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch

teddeutch.house.gov

MARK HETFIELD

@MarkJHetfield

You Just Saved 50,000 Haitians from Being Deported

May 24, 2017 - 11:30

Today 50,000 mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons won a reprieve from being deported to Haiti, where they would have faced extremely difficult conditions.  The reprieve arrived via an announcement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians for another six months.  

You made this victory happen through your support for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). But six months is not enough- TPS is typically extended for 18 months at a time, and it is unlikely that the crises in Haiti that justified TPS will be resolved that soon.

 So we need you to help us build an even bigger movement for the next round.

The six-month extension is a victory for and by the Haitian community in the U.S. But it is also a victory for justice and against hate in the U.S.  Terminating TPS for Haitians was a test case for the broader assault on immigrant’s rights. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) could not deny that Haiti still suffers from its crises. So it tried to justify its recommendation to terminate TPS by demonizing the Haitian-American community as criminals and welfare cheats.   Right-wing media dutifully repeated these talking points.

This movement fought back against the powerful forces against us, and won. We won by insisting that our values include respect for the law and welcoming the TPS recipients who were working, raising families and contributing to their communities in the U.S. while finding shelter from the crises back home.

Your financial support for IJDH kept us on the front lines and in the back rooms of this fight.  We helped generate a raft of editorials, and letters from members of Congress from both parties. IJDH provided organizations large and small with the information, legal analysis and strategy developed in over two decades of work for human rights in Haiti and fair treatment of Haitians in the U.S. IJDH’s scrappy team of interns, volunteers and staff worked tirelessly in public and behind the scenes to nurture the movement. IJDH board members spoke out as political leaders and medical professionals. And so many friends and supporters in the wonderful IJDH community called Congress or DHS, signed petitions, and wrote letters to the editor!

This victory is yours!

We will keep fighting until we win a full extension, for Haitians, and for justice and against hate in the U.S.  By showing that demonizing communities and misapplying the law will not work against Haitians, we can and will set an example for other struggles to defend our values in the United States.

Today we won a victory, but we need to win more. You can ensure that this movement keeps marching forward. Would you make a  gift today of $500, $100 or $50? We promise that your financial contribution will be put to use immediately for justice.

In gratitude,

Brian Concannon

UN: For How Long will Haiti’s Cholera Victims Have to Wait?

May 24, 2017 - 04:37

After six years of denying its responsibility in the spread of the cholera outbreak in Haiti, the United Nations finally admitted it has a “moral responsibility” to fight cholera in Haiti. Then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of a $400-million plan to fight the disease and compensate the victims.

It’s been 5 months since the new plan was announced, and just $10 million has been pledged by member states.The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti’s (MINUSTAH) mandate will end this October, but cholera is going to stay with the Haitian people.

We urge UN Member states to fund the plan by the time MINUSTAH leaves. UN can and must fulfill its promise. UN legacy in Haiti is in the line.

For more information on cholera visit our website.

DHS’ Six-Month TPS Extension Reflects Haiti’s Current Condition Poorly

May 23, 2017 - 13:56

Some U.S. lawmakers and  Haitian activists who had called for an extension of at least eighteen months expressed disappointment in the DHS’ announcement.

“There’s just no way that in six months the nation of Haiti could absorb 60,000 of its people back,” said Florida Senator Bill Nelson, referring to DHS’s decision.

FANM’s executive director Marleine Bastien told the Miami Herald “It’s not a victory to us, and certainly not to the families.”

The the six-month extension is nothing than a failure of the U.S. government to recognize that Haiti’s current situation is precarious. More needs to done to ensure that Haitian nationals live a life that they deserve in the United States. We encourage all of you to continue to stand in solidarity with Haiti by urging President Donald Trump to extend Temporary Protected Status for Haiti for at least 18 months.

So we need your help to build an even bigger movement for the next round.

For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website.

Haiti TPS announcement misleading on facts

May 22, 2017 - 12:28

 By Steven Forester 

Originally published by South Florida Caribbean News

MIAMI – DHS’s announcement extending Haiti’s TPS designation for only six months (rather than the usual, appropriate 18 months) sends very mixed signals and omits extremely significant facts.

It stresses this is likely the last extension, that TPS holders should prepare their travel documents for return to Haiti, and (which is inaccurate) that conditions have greatly improved.

DHS’s announcement ignores the vast destruction last October of Hurricane Matthew, the worst to hit Haiti in 52 years which hit Haiti’s bread basket; Haiti’s unchecked cholera epidemic which has killed and sickened at least 9,500 and 800,000 respectively, and the current food insecurity crisis and spiked cholera cases due to Hurricane Matthew.

It also misleadingly states, “96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps.  Even more encouraging is that over 98 percent of these camps have closed.” 

This is misleading because many camps were forcibly closed due to regular, unchallenged, large-scale evictions by landowners, not because other housing had been found, which it had not been, or because residents had any place else to go.  This has been a huge problem in Haiti.  Even more significantly, several of the larger camps were reclassified by the Haitian government as “permanent housing,” simply because the residents had attached so much salvaged building material to their shanties.

In fact, perhaps never has there been a clearer case for TPS extension than Haiti’s case now, due to the overwhelming triple calamities of earthquake, Matthew, and cholera.  Haiti can’t safely assimilate 50,000 deportees nor, crucially, replace their remittances to hundreds of thousands of families back home.  50,000 still live in tents seven years after the earthquake.

For this reason Haiti’s government was joined by the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, New York Daily News, Sun Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, and Orlando Sentinel editorial boards, the Republican governors of Florida and Massachusetts, 100 bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate and House, 14 big city mayors, 550 U.S. doctors, 416 faith leaders, 330 organizations and leaders, and a host of others in urging an 18-month extension.

Support was unprecedented because the justifying facts on the ground are, as evidenced by an 8-page single-spaced December assessment by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that conditions warranting TPS persist in Haiti, and then-Secretary of State Kerry’s recommendation that it be extended.  But last month, USCIS under President Trump reversed itself, urging termination, and recent leaked DHS efforts to demonize Haitians as criminals and welfare cheats as a means of justifying termination were reprehensible: inherently racist, such considerations are irrelevant, since TPS is a humanitarian program, TPS recipients are ineligible for welfare, and criminals are ineligible for TPS!

So this reprieve is temporary – the facts and overwhelming support were too strong to ignore despite the announcement’s misleading nature and omissions – and we must make sure that they remain so in the months ahead.

Steven Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
www.HaitiJustice.org

Both U.S. and Haiti Will Benefit from TPS Extension

May 22, 2017 - 09:17

The Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is expected to make a decision by Tuesday to extend Temporary Protected Status for nearly 60,000 Haitians have been residing in the U.S. in the past seven years. Those Haitians have become part of the communities where they live and the country’s workforce. They have worked,  paid their taxes and supported their loved ones back home. Haiti has been reeled by a series of natural disasters, including the 2010 earthquake, the cholera epidemic (which is still not under control), and the most recent one Hurricane Matthew that ruined the most southern part of the country last October. “The Haitian program is so important,” says Stephen Legomsky, a USCIS chief counsel during the Obama administration. Legomsky added, “There would be tremendous human hardship on a huge scale if thousands of people were to return to the country at once.”

Call your representatives and senators to urge them to support TPS for Haitians. For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE to read the full article.

Trump Administration Could Send Thousands to Crisis-Plagued Haiti—or Underground

Nathalie Baptiste and P.R. Lockhart, Mother Jones

May 22, 2017

Lys Isma lives legally in the United States. She has no memory of ever living anywhere else. But depending on a decision the Trump administration is expected to make by Tuesday, she could be forced to move to Haiti.

The Department of Homeland Security is set to announce whether it will extend a program that allows Haitian nationals to live in the United States because of the dire conditions in Haiti. The Caribbean nation had yet to fully recover from the 2010 earthquake when contamination at a UN base caused a cholera epidemic that has killed 10,000 people. Last October, Hurricane Matthew ripped through the country, killing hundreds more, destroying crops and homes, and displacing thousands.

After the earthquake, the Obama administration gave Haiti a Temporary Protected Status designation. First introduced in 1990, the TPS program provides humanitarian relief to nationals of countries coping with a severe conflict or natural disaster. By providing recipients with legal status and work authorization, TPS designations—typically granted in 6- to 18-month cycles that can be renewed indefinitely—have become a crucial means of aiding people who face unsafe conditions should they be sent back to their home country.

Isma was only nine months old when she came to the United States from Haiti with her family, which continued to live in the country without documents. “It wasn’t until my father was deported when I was seven that I truly understood what it meant to live in fear,” she said on a recent press call organized by immigration advocates.

….

Click HERE to read the full article.

Former Haitian Mayor who Evaded Justice in His Homeland to Appear in U.S. Court

May 18, 2017 - 12:10

Les Irois’ Mayor Jean Morose Viliena who fled to the United States to escape justice in Haiti, is scheduled to appear in U.S. court in Boston, MA, on May 18, 2017. Viliena was accused of committing human rights abuses against people he perceived as his political opponents. He was under investigation when he left Haiti. Last March, BAI, IJDH and the Center for Justice and Accountability filed a civil case in a U.S. court in Boston against a Haitian mayor who committed many crimes and escaped to the United State to evade justice in Haiti. One of the three plaintiffs in the case, Nissage Martyr, died under suspicious circumstances the day after the filing. The government has finally agreed to an autopsy, and a renowned doctor has volunteered to help.

Read the full article HERE.

Ex-Haitian mayor accused of rights abuses to appear in U.S. courtBy Nate Raymond, Associated PressMay 18, 2017

The former mayor of a rural town in Haiti is due to make his first appearance in a U.S. court in Boston on Thursday over a lawsuit accusing him of murdering, torturing and burning the homes of his political opponents between 2007 and 2009.

Jean Morose Viliena fled Les Irois, Haiti around January 2009 when authorities there began investigating. He had been working as a school bus driver while living in Malden, Massachusetts, according to lawyers for three former constituents.

Viliena, backed by an armed militia, committed human rights abuses by routinely using violence against perceived political opponents or people who complained about how he governed the town of about 22,300 people, the lawsuit said.

In court papers, Viliena denied the allegations. Viliena is serving as his own attorney.

Lawyers with the Center for Justice and Accountability representing three Haitian nationals said they filed the lawsuit seeking unspecified damages in March because Viliena has not been convicted in Haiti.

Read the full article HERE.

Cities Across the U.S. Await Looming TPS Decision

May 18, 2017 - 12:05

Nearly 60,000 Haitian nationals have been legally residing in the U.S. for the past seven years  could be deported if the Trump administration fails to renew Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. Haiti’s situation is still precarious. Failing to extend TPS for those Haitians will not only directly affect them and their families, but cities across the country would lose valuable members of the workforces and their communities. A wide range of advocacy groups, politicians, religious figures, doctors and unions have come out in support of TPS extension. Their reasons vary from humanitarian to practical reasons, but, despite some opposition, the message is clear: extend TPS for Haitians.

Add your voice: Call your representatives and senators to urge them to support TPS for Haitians. For more information on TPS extension and its supporters, please visit our website.

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

Decision Time Nears on Status for Haitians in the US

Maria Cramer, The Boston Globe

May 18, 2017

The federal government has until next Monday to decide the fate of nearly 60,000 Haitians who have been allowed to stay and work in the United States after the 2010 earthquake that devastated their country.

In 2011, the Obama administration granted “temporary protected status” to people from Haiti, which allows immigrants from a designated country who are already living in the United States the right to stay and work legally if they cannot return to their country because of violence or natural disaster.

As the deadline looms, here is a look at the consequences of revoking the status for affected Haitians, those who support extending the program and those who oppose it:

Click HERE for the full article.

Press Release: 330 Organizations and Community Leaders Urge TPS Extension

May 18, 2017 - 08:01

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Steven Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), steveforester@aol.com, 786-877-6999

130 Organizations and 200 Individuals Urge Extension of Haiti’s TPS Designation, Joining Bipartisan Political and Extensive Editorial and Religious Support

(May 18, 2017) Today 330 organizations and persons serving the Haitian American community wrote President Trump, Homeland Security Secretary Kelly, and Secretary of State Tillerson urging DHS to extend Haiti’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for another 18 months.

“We concur with USCIS’s extremely detailed, 8-page single-spaced December 2016 review and assessment that the conditions warranting TPS for this group persist,” they wrote, noting bipartisan political and other support including powerful editorials by the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, and New York Daily News.

Incomplete earthquake recovery, an unchecked cholera epidemic introduced by UN peacekeepers in October 2010 that has claimed nearly a million victims, and last October’s devastating Hurricane Matthew make deporting 50,000 long-resident TPS recipients unsafe, they write, noting that Haiti can’t safely assimilate them or replace the crucial remittances they send back to as many as 500,000 family members.

Failing to extend TPS would be a disaster for families here and in Haiti, destabilizing, and bad for US national security, the leaders note.

Recently 416 faith-based organizations and leaders urged TPS extension, and on May 11 Republican U.S. Representative Dan Donovon, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness joined 18 U.S. Senators and 72 other U.S. Representatives of both parties who wrote earlier letters urging Haiti TPS extension; Donovan wrote that not doing so would be destabilizing and bad for the economy of both nations.

Today’s letter, sent on a unique letterhead including the logos of 38 endorsing organizations, notes that President Trump promised during the campaign to be the Haitian American community’s “biggest champion.”  DHS Secretary Kelly must decide whether to extend Haiti’s TPS status, which Haiti’s government is urging, by May 23.

Click HERE to see the PDF version.

“Outstanding Student of the Year” Faces Deportation if TPS Expires

May 18, 2017 - 07:01

Cansery Goguette has been doing everything he can to secure a steady future; he’s been learning English for the past seven years, was recognized by the Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education as its 2017 Outstanding Student of the Year, and is just one exam away from receiving his high school diploma. But Goguette, who fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake left him and his sons homeless, faces deportation if his Temporary Protected Status expires. “If I go back to my country without my high school diploma, I can’t do anything,” Goguette told WCBV, “I want to stay to help my sons.” Goguette won’t just face unemployment if he’s deported, but a country that is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Matthew, as Reliefweb illustrates.

 

Add your voice: Call your representatives and senators to urge them to support TPS for Haitians. For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website.

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

Top Brockton student, Haitian dad may face deportation

Anna Burgess, The Enterprise

May 17, 2017

Haitian immigrant Cansery Goguette has dreams of becoming a police investigator.

He has spent the past seven years learning English, is one test away from his high school diploma, and on May 12 was honored by the Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education as their 2017 Outstanding Student of the Year, the Enterprise reported.

He may never see his full educational potential realized, though.

This year, Goguette will likely be forced to return to Haiti when his Temporary Protected Status expires.

….

Click HERE for the original article.

 

Hundreds of Haitians Gather in Orlando Church to Plead for TPS Extension

May 15, 2017 - 06:21

Nearly 2,000 people gathered in Eglise Baptiste Philadelphie d’Orlando in hopes of pushing the Trump administration to extend TPS for the 58,000 Haitians living under the program’s protection. Organizers screened a clip of Donald Trump’s campaign stop in Little Haiti, at which he promised to be the Haitian people’s “greatest champion.” The Trump administration is expected to make a decision by next Tuesday, May 23.

Add your voice: Call your representatives and senators to urge them to support TPS for Haitians. For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website.

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

Haitians rally in Orlando as deadline to extend immigration protections nears

Monivette Cordeiro, Orlando Weekly

May 15, 2017
Almost 2,000 people crowded into the Eglise Baptiste Philadelphie d’Orlando church last weekend to demand that President Donald Trump expand immigration protections for Haitians who fear they may be deported.

The deadline for the Trump administration to decide whether it wants to extend temporary protected status for Haitians is May 23. The Obama administration granted Haitians this status after the devastating 2010 earthquake in the Caribbean country, which killed hundreds of thousands of people and left more than a million people homeless. Haiti had not yet recovered when it was hit last year by Hurricane Matthew.

Last month, James McCament, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said “conditions in Haiti no longer support its designation” for temporary protected status for refugees. If the Department of Homeland Security does not extend protections for 58,000 Haitians, they could be sent back to their country when the program expires on July 22. The Tampa Bay Times reports even Florida Gov. Rick Scott has asked DHS Secretary John Kelly to extend protections for the thousands of Haitians who live in the state.

….

Click HERE for the original article.

Deporting Tens of Thousands of Haitians to Haiti Could Impede Progress

May 14, 2017 - 11:57

The Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has until May 22 to decide about TPS extension for Haitians, which would allow more than 50,000 Haitian nationals to remain legal residents in the U.S. As the date approaches, more leaders are coming forth to acknowledge the importance of allowing those Haitian nationals to stay; not only is it humane, given the current situation in Haiti, but it is also practical for the U.S. Over 4,300 TPS beneficiaries are currently living in Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire. The Haitian Ambassador to the U.S., Paul G. Altidor, has also expressed concerns about the implications of  deporting tens of thousands of Haitians to a country that cannot support them, including the increase of illegal and risky immigration back to the U.S. Things are improving in Haiti, he says, but slowly; an influx of 50,000 would destabilize Haiti and threaten the progress that has already been made.

Visit our website for more information on TPS extension.

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

Exiled by an earthquake, Haitians in Boston are in limbo

Maria Cramer, The Boston Globe

May 14, 2017

Marianne never intended to stay in the United States. She came to New York on a temporary visa in 2008, hoping to sell her handmade jewelry and make enough money to take home to Haiti. Two years later, a powerful earthquake struck there, killing at least 200,000 people and leaving Haiti — and her home — in rubble.

Since then, Marianne and nearly 60,000 other Haitians have been allowed to live legally in the United States, thanks to a federal program known as temporary protected status, designed for people who, because of violence or natural disasters, cannot return home.

Now the Trump administration is weighing whether to bring an end to their stay, a decision that could affect more than 4,300 Haitians living in Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire.

The Department of Homeland Security has until May 22 to decide whether to extend the program for Haitians beyond the expiration date of July 22.

If the program is not extended, it could lead to the deportation of thousands of Haitians.

Hundreds of religious leaders, members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, and union officials, as well as Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, have written letters to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, imploring him to extend the status not just as a humanitarian gesture, but also as a matter of practicality for the United States.

Haitians represent a sizable portion of home health aides and nursing staff, a US workforce that is already shrinking, said Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy at PHI National, which represents home care workers and nursing assistants.

Click HERE for the original article.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott Presses DHS to Extend TPS for Haiti

May 12, 2017 - 07:21

Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida urged Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to extend TPS for Haitians in a meeting on Thursday. DHS spokesman David Lapan noted that the secretary still hasn’t made a decision regarding extending TPS, which will allow over 50,000 Haitians to continue to live legally in the United States. Lapan said Sec. Kelly and Gov. Scott “did have a conversation about the program and the secretary listened to the Governor’s points about his desire for DHS to extend TPS.” The governor joins the growing bipartisan support for TPS extension, including Rep. Dan Donovan (R, NY), members of both Massachusetts‘ and New York’s congressional delegations, and 16 Senate Democrats

Add your voice: Call your representatives and senators to urge them to support TPS for Haitians. For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website.

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

Rick Scott asks Trump administration to extend protection for Haitians

Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

May 12, 2017

WASHINGTON – Gov. Rick Scott has pressed the Trump administration to back off on timeline that could result in the deportation of thousands of Haitians, many living in Florida.

Scott raised the issue in a meeting Thursday with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. “Temporary protected status” for Haitians expires in July and they could be expelled in January.

“The secretary has not made a decision on TPS for Haiti,” spokesman David Lapan told the Tampa Bay Times. “He and Gov. Scott did have a conversation about the program and the secretary listened to the Governor’s points about his desire for DHS to extend TPS.”

….

Click HERE for the original article.

The Disability Community in Collaboration with Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) Pay Tribute to Three Death Women Murdered In Cabaret, Haiti

May 12, 2017 - 03:44

On April 26, 2017, managing director of Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), Mario Joseph, in consultation with several representatives of organizations for disabled people (SHAA, RANIPH, UFMORF and  AFAS) met at the BAI office locate in downtown Port-au-Prince to pay tribute to Sophonie Gelin, Vanessa Prévil and Monique Vincent, the three death women who were assassinated in Cabaret on March 18, 2016.

During the meeting, Mario and the representatives of other organizations made a resolution to work on honoring the memories of these three deaf women, while continuing to advocate for justice and reparation for them in particular, and for the whole disability community in general.

It was an opportunity for Mario Joseph, the lawyer of the three deaf women to review the recent development of the case while showing the positive impact of advocacy on this development. Mario said,“Following the sit-in on March 10, 2017 in front of the Court of First Instance (lower court) of Port-au-Prince, and the march of the organizations for disabled people in Cabaret to protest against the slowness of Haitian justice system on March 17, a year after the assassination of the three deaf women. The judge has finally decided to take necessary steps to hear key individuals in the investigation of the case.”

Mario added that the judge invited two people: one of them is a police officer who was present at the time of the assassination and did nothing to prevent these reprehensible criminal acts, and the mother of the alleged criminals who was inside the house when the criminal acts were committed. “  The judge also sent letters rogatory (letter of request) to the Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire (DCPJ) requesting to hear other individuals involved in this assassination,” Mario concluded.

Additionally, Dr. Michel Pean of the Société Haïtienne d’Aide aux Aveugles (SHAA) also gave an update on the progress with the Mayor of the town of Cabaret who welcomed the idea of changing the name of the place ‘Haut-Damier’ where the bodies of the three women were thrown after their assassination, to a name that will forever remind people of these acts of barbarism. The participants suggested the name Rue des trois femmes sourdes (Road of the three deaf women) to the Mayor.

The meeting was also a time for the attendees to demand a symbolic reparation for victims women, by erecting three sculptures representing the portraits of these three deaf women on the street to be renamed.

U.S. Government’s Criminal Investigation On Haitian Nationals Is Against Everything America Stands for

May 10, 2017 - 07:13

The criminal investigation launched by the Trump administration on Haitian nationals living in the United State for the past seven years is disheartening. This investigation has one goal, which is to dehumanize Haitians. It also stands against American values and all that the U.S. stands for. Steven Forester, the immigration policy coordinator with IJDH told Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles that the “criminal” inquiries are “a red herring” and may be the government’s way of trying to demonize Haitians. “The bipartisan support and merits of the argument for TPS…may mean that those who oppose any immigration at all may be grasping at straws,” he said. TPS is a special program designed to help people from countries that are temporary unable “to handle the return of its nationals adequately.” Haiti is one of the 13 countries that have been designated for TPS after the 2010 earthquake and after a series of natural disasters that ravaged the country.

Add your voice: endorse this letter, which will be sent to both President Donald Trump and Secretary John Kelly (endorse HERE). Call your representatives and senators to urge them to support TPS for Haitians. For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website.

The article is shown below in its entirety. Click HERE for the original article.

Trump administration seeking criminal history of Haitians

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

May 09, 2017

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse will personally ask President Donald Trump not to end a humanitarian program that has protected tens of thousands of Haitians from deportation.

“He hopes that it will be prolonged,” Wilson Laleau, Haiti’s former finance minister and Moïse’s chief of staff, told the Miami Herald on Tuesday. “He will officially ask that of the American government.”

The public plea comes amid growing fears of a new deportation push as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security acknowledged compiling evidence on the crimes committed by Haitians enrolled in the Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, program.

The unprecedented move has sparked outrage among members of Congress and Haitian immigrant advocates, and sent shivers through Central American groups that also have found shelter in the U.S. under TPS.

“If it’s canceled for the Haitians, we know that it will be canceled for Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans,” said Francisco Portillo, president of the Miami-based Francisco Morazán Honduran Organization. He announced his advocacy group will launch its own TPS letter-writing campaign for Central Americans on Sunday.

More than 200,000 Hondurans, El Savadorans and Nicaraguans have been allowed to live and work freely in the United States ever since Hurricane Mitch barreled through Central America in 1995. While the protection expires July 22 for Haitians, it expires in January 2018 for Hondurans and Nicaraguans, and in March 2018 for Salvadorans.

The Associated Press on Tuesday published portions of internal emails from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicating that the agency has made inquiries into the Haitian community’s criminal history. The emails also reveal that the agency wants to know how many of the 58,000 Haitians enrolled in the Temporary Protected Status program are taking advantage of public benefits, which they are not eligible to receive.

The revelation follows the creation of a DHS-run Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office to help victims of crimes committed by immigrants, and on the heels of a recommendation by USCIS’ acting director, James McCament, to terminate TPS for Haitians as of January.

McCament made the recommendation to DHS Secretary John Kelly in an April 10 memo obtained by the Miami Herald. Kelly has until May 23 — 60 days before the program’s expiration date — to make a decision. The AP story said that while the move is considered to be unorthodox, it suggests that Kelly might be looking at other criteria in deciding whether the United States should continue the program for Haitians.

DHS said Tuesday that Kelly has yet to make a decision, and the secretary is continuing to review reports from his staff about conditions in Haiti, including McCament’s recommendation.

But some immigration advocates believe that DHS is looking for a way to discontinue TPS, which was first granted to Haitians following their country’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.

“This is what happens when you staff the DHS with immigration hardliners and extremists, then put a retired general to front for the operation in an attempt to make it seem normal,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration reform group America’s Voice Education Fund.
Congressional lawmakers, immigration attorneys and advocates said TPS designation should only be based on conditions in Haiti.

“Haiti continues to suffer from the effects of a catastrophic earthquake, cholera epidemic, hurricane, and food insecurity crisis that provide ample grounds for extending TPS based on extraordinary and temporary conditions,” members of the Congressional Black Caucus said Tuesday in a statement. “Reports that USCIS is collecting crime statistics to justify the denial of TPS re-designation for Haiti defies both the letter and spirit of the law, while corroding the values of our nation of immigrants.”

Flabbergasted Haitian immigrant advocates called the move “a witch hunt” and “a big show,” because Haitian nationals with criminal records do not qualify for TPS or benefits. Recipients are required to be fingerprinted, and re-checked when the status is extended, immigration attorneys say.

“It is disheartening to hear that instead of renewing TPS for these hardworking families who are at risk of losing their jobs, Secretary Kelly has decided to go on a witch hunt for criminals,” said Marleine Bastien, a leading Haitian advocate and head of the Haitian Women of Miami.

Bastien, recalling Donald Trump’s September campaign stop in Little Haiti before he became president, added: “President Trump promised to be Haitians’ best champion. It is time for him to show it.”

Jean Monestime, the first Haitian American elected to the Miami-Dade County Commission, also called on Trump to stop the investigations, which he said only serve “to send a message to the rest of the world that America is departing from its moral responsibilities.”

In the Congressional Black Caucus, Reps. Yvette Clarke, D-New York; John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan; Frederica Wilson, D-Florida; Barbara Lee, D-California; Chairman Cederic Richmond, D-Louisiana; and Utah Republican Mia Love, the first Haitian American elected to Congress, said the move was a continuation of Trump’s efforts to promote a false stereotype of the criminality of immigrants.

Citing a study by the San Franciso-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center, they noted that Haitian TPS enrollees contribute nearly $35 million annually for Social Security benefits that they cannot receive. The study used data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey to determine that ending TPS for the roughly 300,000 Haitians, El Savadorans and Hondurans would cost U.S. taxpayers $3.1 billion.

“The administration has cast immigrants as drug dealers, sexual predators and terrorists who are a drain on our society,” the black lawmakers said. “However, the fact is that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than non-immigrants and higher immigration rates are associated with lower crime rates. Moreover, immigrants of all backgrounds contribute to our economy.”

Steven Forester, the immigration policy coordinator with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, called the inquiries a way of trying to “demonize” Haitians, adding that “those who oppose any immigration at all may be grasping at straws.”

Randy McGrorty, an attorney and head of Catholic Legal Services, said he doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence that Kelly’s request for criminal histories was made shortly after the VOICE office was launched.

“If you have two misdemeanors, no matter how minor, or one felony, you’re not eligible for TPS so that the people in the TPS programs have relatively clean criminal records, and they have to demonstrate that every 18 months to the U.S. government,” McGrorty said.

A senior administration official said the search for criminal histories was not related to VOICE.
Tom Jawetz, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, said sending Haitians back to a disaster-prone Haiti that is still recovering is not the right move.

“USCIS may be twisting itself into a pretzel to find a way to get to ‘no,’ but the decision lies with Secretary Kelly,” he said. “Haiti’s recovery from the 2010 earthquake and 2016 hurricane remains incomplete and very fragile and sending 50,000 people back now is shortsighted and dangerous.”

As a result of McCament’s recommendation, Haitian immigration advocates and Republican and Democratic lawmakers have stepped up their push to have the status renewed ahead of the July 22 expiration date. There have also been at least two petitions from Haitian activists asking for the program’s 18-month extension, along with letters from Republican and Democratic lawmakers and 416 faith-based leaders and organizations, and editorials in publications including the Miami Herald, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

While McCament points out in his recommendation to end TPS that Haiti had enormous problems even before the earthquake left more than 300,000 dead, 1.5 million homeless and an equal number injured, advocates note that the country hasn’t yet recovered. Additionally, Hurricane Matthew in October triggered a hunger and housing crisis in areas hit by its Category 4 winds.

 ___

Click HERE for the original article.

5/19/17: Voyaje – Experience a Taste of Haiti [EVENT]

May 8, 2017 - 13:35

Join CHES, an organization that supports entrepreneurs in rural Haiti since 2008, in celebrating the Haitian culture and its work! Haitian Chef Stephan Berrouet Durand is coming to town to delight palettes with his unique culinary creations. Notable guests include MA Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry. There will be a chance to experience the products of exciting Haitian businesses such as Les Chocolatier Askanya and artists. Voyaje 2017: Experience a Taste of Haiti – Good food. Good people. Good work.

WHEN: Friday, May 19 7:00 PM

BRUCE BOLLING BUILDING

2300 Washington Street

Boston, MA 02119

Click HERE for more information and to RSVP.

5/10/17: Immigration Forum with Senator Dorcena Forry [EVENT]

May 8, 2017 - 13:27

Senator Linda Dorcena Forry will gather a panel of area experts to discuss current immigration issues, and how we move forward together.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 10 5:30-7:30 PM

Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (Viet-AID)

42 Charles Street, Dorchester, MA 02122

WHO: Panelists

John J. McCarthy – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Marjean Perhot – Refugee & Immigration Services – Catholic Charities of Boston

Wadner Oge – Immigration Attorney

Anthony Marino – Irish International Immigrant Center

An Le – Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Office for Immigrant Advancement

William Broderick – Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

If you have questions, please call 617-722-1150