[Blackstudies-l] Edwidge Danticat: A HARROWING TURNING POINT FOR HAITIAN IMMIGRANTS

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Mon May 15 07:48:34 EDT 2017


lisaparavisini posted: " An article by Edwidge Danticat for the New Yorker.
D.—he asked that I not use his name—moved to the United States from Haiti
with his parents in 2001, when he was nine years old. They travelled from
Port-au-Prince on tourist visas, and then stayed beyon"
Respond to this post by replying above this line
New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> Edwidge Danticat: A
HARROWING TURNING POINT FOR HAITIAN IMMIGRANTS
<http://repeatingislands.com/2017/05/14/edwidge-danticat-a-harrowing-turning-point-for-haitian-immigrants/>
by
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: Danticat-Haitian-immigrants-2-690.jpg]

An article by Edwidge Danticat for the *New Yorker*.
<http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/a-harrowing-turning-point-for-haitian-immigrants>

D.—he asked that I not use his name—moved to the United States from Haiti
with his parents in 2001, when he was nine years old. They travelled from
Port-au-Prince on tourist visas, and then stayed beyond the authorized time
period because of political instability in Haiti. D. attended school in
Miami.

In high school he played football and had a 4.1 G.P.A. He completed all of
his coursework, including all the Advanced Placement classes offered at his
school, by the end of his junior year, and graduated in the top three per
cent of his class. He applied and was accepted to Florida Memorial
University in 2009, hoping to study engineering, but because he was
undocumented he did not qualify for the full-ride scholarship he was
offered. He tried other schools, including the local community college, but
did not qualify for loans or in-state tuition. Instead, D. saved up for a
paralegal-certificate course by working as a parking attendant at a Miami
Beach hotel during the day, then at the hotel’s front desk at night. He
studied and wrote papers during his night shifts. “It was like having two
and a half jobs,” he told me recently. “I was only sleeping every other
day. People kept telling me, ‘You’re so bright, why aren’t you in college?’
They didn’t realize that I wanted more than anything to go to college. I
just didn’t have the opportunity.”

In 2010, after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing an
estimated three hundred thousand people and leaving 1.5 million homeless,
Haitian community leaders, including many Miami-based advocates, appealed
to the U.S. government for temporary protected status, which was granted
nine days after the earthquake. Temporary protected status, or T.P.S., is
designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security in cases where a country’s
nationals are unable to return safely or when the country is incapable of
receiving them due to armed conflicts, environmental disasters, epidemics,
or other “extraordinary” conditions.

T.P.S. is granted for eighteen months at a time and is renewable at the
discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security, at times in consultation
with the State Department and the Secretary of State. T.P.S. does not offer
a path to citizenship, but it does allow recipients to apply for a work
permit and a driver’s license, and prevents them from being deported.

Haiti is one of thirteen countries that have been granted temporary
protected status. The others are El Salvador, Guinea, Honduras, Liberia,
Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, and
Syria. Of the three hundred thousand foreign nationals who are covered by
T.P.S., approximately fifty thousand are Haitian and many, like D., have
been living in the United States since before the 2010 earthquake. They
qualified for T.P.S. because conditions in Haiti in the aftermath of the
earthquake made their return hazardous, but also because of a raging
cholera epidemic that was introduced by Nepalese United Nations
peacekeepers, in 2010, and has killed nine thousand Haitians and sickened
eight hundred thousand.

The last time T.P.S. was extended for Haitians
<https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2015/08/25/2015-21006/extension-of-the-designation-of-haiti-for-temporary-protected-status>
was in August, 2015, during the Obama Administration. Citing conditions
“that prevent Haitian nationals (or aliens having no nationality who last
habitually resided in Haiti) from returning to Haiti in safety,” Jeh
Johnson, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security at the time,
renewed the designation through July 22, 2017. Now it is up to the Trump
Administration’s Homeland Security Secretary, John F. Kelly, to decide, by
May 23rd, whether he will renew T.P.S. or terminate it, thus making the
fifty thousand Haitians currently protected vulnerable to deportation.

Recently, James McCament, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services, recommended that Kelly terminate
<http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article146100224.html>,
allowing six months—until January, 2018—as a grace period for “an orderly
transition” toward either voluntary return or deportation. The Haitian
government has stated that the country is not ready to receive a sudden
influx of returnees. In a May 3rd interview
<http://lenouvelliste.com/article/170687/ladministration-moise-lafontant-favorable-au-renouvellement-du-tps>
with *Le Nouvelliste*, one of the country’s daily newspapers, Haiti’s new
President, Jovenel Moïse, declared that he was in favor of T.P.S. renewal
given the slow progress Haiti has made in rebuilding since the earthquake.
Haiti’s most recent natural disaster, 2016’s Hurricane Matthew
<http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/facing-hurricane-matthew>, caused
$2.7 billion in damages, equivalent to thirty-two per cent of Haiti’s gross
domestic product. Hurricane Matthew killed more than a thousand people and
devastated Haiti’s southern peninsula, destroying most of that region’s
infrastructure, homes, crops, and livestock, which has led to a dearth of
housing and increased food insecurity
<http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article144280949.html>.
“We believe this is not the time to welcome our brothers and sisters back
because it will aggravate our already precarious situation,” Haiti’s
foreign-affairs minister, Antonio Rodrigue, told *Le Nouvelliste*. “An
extension of the TPS will give the government some respite to put in place
projects to improve living conditions in the country.”

Republican and Democratic lawmakers
<http://floridapolitics.com/archives/234668-alcee-hastings-seeks-extend-protected-status-haitians>,
faith-based organizations
<http://www.interfaithimmigration.org/over-400-faith-leaders-and-faith-organizations-urge-dhs-to-protect-haitians/?utm_source=CLINIC+Mail&utm_campaign=dcbcd31c04-press_release_5_2_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a33179621a-dcbcd31c04-283998621>,
and unions, including one representing workers at the Walt Disney Company
<http://unitehere.org/press-releases/hospitality-union-to-trump-let-haitian-workers-stay-in-the-us/>,
in Orlando, have also urged Kelly to renew T.P.S. The editorial pages of
major U.S. newspapers—among them the *Times*
<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/29/opinion/sunday/dont-send-50000-back-to-fragile-haiti.html>,
the Washington *Post*
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-united-states-may-be-about-to-inflict-a-massive-hardship-on-haiti/2017/04/22/a0741cb2-26ad-11e7-bb9d-8cd6118e1409_story.html>,
the Boston *Globe*
<https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2017/04/24/renew-protected-status-for-haitians/naGVEd8TT1afpqiEGVEGZN/story.html>,
and the Miami *Herald*
<http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article144888619.html>—have
echoed these pleas, urging Kelly to consider that sending fifty thousand
Haitians back, as the Miami *Herald* editorial board put it, will harm
Haiti more than it will benefit the United States. According to the San
Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center
<https://www.ilrc.org/report-tps-economic-cost>, Haitians with T.P.S.
collectively earn two hundred and eighty million dollars a year in wages,
and contribute about thirty-five million dollars annually to Social
Security. Part of their wages are also used for remittances, which are
vital to family members in Haiti as well as the country’s fragile economy.

In keeping with the Trump Administration’s emphatic focus on immigrant crime
<https://www.ice.gov/voice>, part of Kelly’s decision-making process
<http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article149428879.html> seems to
involve looking at how many Haitians on T.P.S. have committed crimes or
used public services for which they’re not eligible, a signal that the
Secretary might be looking for some justification to end the program, an
outcome which would be disastrous for D. and thousands of others.

I asked D., who said he wakes up every morning feeling like he is in limbo,
what he would say to Secretary Kelly and the Trump Administration if he
could. I have known him since he was in high school, and I have never heard
so much worry in his voice. Like so many other immigrants who have made a
life in this country, who have bought homes and started businesses, who are
parents of U.S.-born children, he is living in constant fear of being
plucked out of his life at a moment’s notice.

If his T.P.S. is revoked, D. said, he will not be able to work. He will be
too terrified to leave his house, for fear of being deported. He will not
be able to complete the college degree that he is working to pay for
himself. He would remind Secretary Kelly and the Trump Administration that
T.P.S. recipients, from Haiti and from other countries, are “fully
invested, fully committed to this country,” and in many cases have nowhere
else to go. “We have drive, we have desire, we work hard,” he said. “We
have learned a lot here that we want to use for the good of this country.
So many of us have already made a difference here and so many of us still
can.” Extending temporary protected status, he added, is the sensible thing
to do.
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* | May
14, 2017 at 11:17 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-vlO

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