Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Urgent Action Needed for Haitians

Earlier today, someone left the following comment here on the blog:

"As a Quaker living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, I ask that FCNL give particular attention to the request that the 30,000 Haitians now under final deportation order from the US be granted Temporary Protected Status. They qualify for this status as their nation is under the protective care of the UN peacekeepers and they suffered drastic damage to their crops last year and are now facing famine. President Preval of Haiti has asked for this measure. Can Friends stand with the people of Haiti in this troubled period?"

I couldn't agree with this comment more. FCNL doesn't work much on refugee issues because there is a large, coordinated coalition of providers here in DC that does excellent work on the issue.

But the case of Haitians is one that needs urgent attention. As the article that I posted last week points out, deadly mudslides, hurricanes, and famine propelled the president of Haiti to request Temporary Protected Status for the 30,000 undocumented Haitians living in the United States that are scheduled for deportation. The idea of such relief is that it would give Haiti time to rebuild its communities and infrastructure before placing 30,000 jobless and homeless people in its midst.

Deportations were halted briefly last September while President Bush reviewed President Preval's request, but were resumed again in December when the request was denied.

Now, the situation is more dire than ever. These deportations are separating families that have been living in the United States for over 15 years. Meanwhile, the situation in Haiti has worsened so much that the Coast Guard has intercepted hundreds of Haitians trying to escape Haiti and come to the United States.

President Obama and Secretary Napolitano need to take action and stop deportations to Haiti. This is a matter of human rights.

Here is what I'm hearing should be done from my colleagues in the DC refugee rights coalition:

DHS Secretary Napolitano is meeting with South Florida Members of Congress today (early afternoon) to discuss policy toward Haitians. We’ve been told DHS and the White House need to hear from more of us. So we are asking people to call DHS and the White House to demand an end to deportations to Haiti and review of the Bush Administration’s decision to deny Haitian’s TPS:

Ø Leave a message on the DHS public comment line at (202)-282-8495

Ø Leave a message on the White House public comment line (202) 456-1111

Here are some suggested talking points. Please improvise and use your own words:

“My name is ______ from __(your organization)___. I’m calling to ask that you immediately stop deportations to Haiti.

· This is a matter of life and death.

· Continuing the discriminatory treatment of Haitians has no place in the new Administration.

· Haitians deserve and more than qualify for Temporary Protected Status.

· Show your leadership. Do the right thing and stop the deportations now.”

We are happy to share additional background materials if it is helpful to you. Thank you for making these calls, and for all that you already do!

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