Tag: Haitians and Obama

HaitianImmigration News

Standoff Between the U.S. and Haiti: 30,000 Migrants at Issue

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Haitian Times

Haitians in South Florida celebrated Obama's victory on Nov. 4, 2008. (Photo: Haitian Times)

In one of our end-of-the-year pieces last December, Haitian-American journalist Macollvie Jean-François summed up the hopes of Haitians in the U.S. after many of them helped elect Barack Obama to the presidency: “People here hope for a policy toward Haiti that is comprehensive, streamlined, smart and empathetic.”

It seems those hopes are not being realized despite the change at the White House. Monday, an article in the South Florida-Sun Sentinel revealed that 30,000 Haitians have been ordered to leave the U.S., after a temporary halt in deportations had made many hopeful they would be granted temporary stays.

Haiti has reacted by blocking the deportations through a simple measure: it is not processing travel documents for its citizens, leaving some 600 of them in immigration detention centers in the U.S.

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CommentaryHaitian

After Eventful Year, Haitian-Americans Continue to Hope

By Macollvie Jean-François

In the aftermath of the devastation four major storms wrought on Haiti’s already fragile ecosystem and precarious daily life a few months ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it would stop deporting Haitians, temporarily. The news brought on such euphoria among some, it was as though the U.S. government had finally granted Haitians the long-sought, ever-elusive Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and at-long-last tangibly recognized Haiti’s volatility. When ICE revoked that measure 10 weeks later (see a Sun-Sentinel story reposted here), it was like throwing a bucket of water on advocates and families impacted.

But the hope — a popular word these days — is that an Obama Administration may be more receptive to granting Haitians TPS. It’s one example of aspirations many Haitian-Americans hope will fare better than they did under George Bush.

No one expects substantial change in Haiti or Haitian enclaves overnight, though many experienced an immediate boost in pride at the President-elect’s achievements. People understand that the recession, the wars, health care, education and energy take precedence over immigration-related issues.

Haitian-Americans and friends of Haiti are quick to throw out these maxims in conversation about U.S.-Haiti relations: “When it rains in the U.S., it pours in Haiti”; “If the U.S. sneezes, Haiti catches a cold.” The sayings speak to the connection between the two countries – a mere 2-hour flight from each other — and how heavily Haiti relies on the U.S. for aid, whether from the U.S. government or remittances sent home by Haitian -Americans. It’s the reason thousands of naturalized U.S. citizens stood on those snaking lines across South Florida to vote early, some standing for several hours. Their ballots, firmly cast, helped deliver Florida to Obama, early and decisively. (more…)

HaitianImmigration News

Haitians in South Florida: “Wi Nou Kapab” (Yes, We Can)

Jocelyne Cameau, an Obama supporter, at a Haitians for Obama event in Delray Beach.

Jocelyne Cameau, an Obama supporter, at a Haitians for Obama event in Delray Beach.

This story is by Macollvie Jean-François, a Haitian-American news reporter with the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.

On a recent Thursday night at a Haitian restaurant near Fort Lauderdale, Karl Heintz held court at a table where he sat with a half dozen other Haitian men. Over a heap of bronzed chicken and mounds of rice and beans, Heintz, a 36-year-old small-business owner, gave a 15-minute synopsis of the presidential race and the candidates that would rival that of any cable news network political analyst. He went from Barack Obama’s 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention to Sarah Palin’s interview with Charles Gibson.

About a week later at the Palm Beach County Civic Center in Delray Beach, about 80 Haitian-Americans assembled for a Haitians for Obama rally. When a few people pulled out checkbooks to donate, Frantz Richard, 54, persuaded them to do it online instead. He keyed in their credit card and other personal information on the laptop right there at the reception area.

Excitement over Obama’s candidacy and disenchantment with the Bush administration have combined to push Heintz, Richard and other Haitians to actively campaign this year. Heintz said he’s not part of any formal groups, but he stays informed, has made nearly $500 in campaign contributions over several months, and he understands how close the election could be. (The 537 votes that cost Gore Florida in 2000 are becoming something close to a mantra, with many people alluding to them in cautionary tones.)

Haitian-American users on Facebook and MySpace, meanwhile, have been circulating information about the candidates for months. 

Within this mostly-Democratic voting bloc, most of the campaign events in South Florida are pro-Obama. Most Haitian-Americans support the Democrat unabashedly, citing his inspiring success in America as a black man with a “hyphenated identity.” His migration experience and his exposure to world cultures resonate with them as immigrants.

On the other hand, efforts supporting the Democratic ticket seem belated and less visible than during previous elections, for a variety of reasons— the online outreach option being one. Four years ago, you couldn’t drive two blocks in the traditional Haitian enclaves without seeing a storefront window plastered with red-white-blue campaign posters. However, quite a few Haitians for Obama groups have emerged since Hillary Clinton’s concession and the DNC. They’re now hosting fundraising events, handing our car stickers, and sporting t-shirts bearing Obama’s face with his “Yes, We Can” slogan in Creole: “Wi, Nou Kapab.”

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