Council Member Jumaane Williams, Joseph Champagne Mayor of Toms River New Jersey Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely Community Mayor of Harlem Goodwill Ambassador to Africa Henri J. Desrosiers, NP President/CEO International Humanitarian Outreach Ministries Inc. Rodneyse Bichotte District Leader Brooklyn, New York. (2012) Photo Credit: Igeoma Simon

By Haitian Times Editorial Staff

Last week, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte (D-NY), State Senator Kevin Parker (D-NY), and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-NY) sent a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, and the Obama administration asking them to reverse course on their decision to resume deportations of Haitians. In addition, Assemblymember Bichotte participated in a social media campaign imploring the administration to redesignate Haitians refugees for temporary protected status classification and to expand the Haitian Family Reunification Program.  

In their joint letter they stated, “America has long been known as the land of opportunity, and a country that has opened its borders to immigrants. If we look at more recent immigrants, such as Cubans, there has long been a policy that once they arrive, if they make it to our shores, they are allowed to stay and granted refugee status. There were also Salvadorans and Guatemalans, which sought asylum in our country during the civil war in El Salvador, many to whom asylum was granted. Ultimately, legislation was put in place, the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central Relief Act (1972), which allowed these groups to apply directly for a green card. In addition, the Obama administration has recently said it would accept 110,000 Syrian refugees. In light of these policies, it would appear, that these Haitian immigrants are being singled out.”

Prior to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, many Haitians migrated there to find work. Once the Olympics were over, jobs were scarce and some Haitians began the long and treacherous journey to the U.S./Mexico border only to be detained or turned away. In some cases, families were separated — women and children from their husbands and fathers, due to the abrupt change in immigration policy.

This was at a time when there was a tragic confluence of events including the devastation Hurricane Matthew, and a widespread cholera epidemic, accompanied by a pending election.

Contrary to what DHS has stated, the situation in Haiti has not improved, it has worsened, warranting a humanitarian response, and not harsh enforcement.

The letter can be read in its entirety here.

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