Our VoiceImmigration

Haitian immigrants targeted by the anti-immigrant movement

MJ Olahafa • Jan 14, 2011

A year ago, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the island of Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, killing more than 230,000 people. Today, roughly a million remain homeless amid the debris and stuttering reconstruction efforts in Port-au-Prince.

Last year’s earthquake was just one of the disasters the people of Haiti suffered in the last few years. In August and September of 2008, Haiti was hit by four consecutive hurricanes (Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike) which killed over 800 people, displaced tens of thousands of Haitians and devastated the Haitian economy. If there was ever a country which fit the description and had a need for Temporary Protective Status [TPS], it is Haiti.

The Bush Administration incomprehensibly denied TPS to Haitians in 2008, but it was finally granted in the wake of the earthquake by the Obama Administration.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on January 15, 2010, granted an 18-month amnesty to Haitians who were in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants or legal visitors at the time of the earthquake. And this has been gnawing at the anti-immigrant movement ever since.

First up was Mark Krikorian, executive director of Center for Immigration Studies with this thoughtful statement after the earthquake:

“My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough… But, unlike Jamaicans and Bajans and Guadeloupeans, et al., after experiencing the worst of tropical colonial slavery, the Haitians didn’t stick around long enough to benefit from it… And by benefit I mean develop a local culture significantly shaped by the more-advanced civilization of the colonizers.”

He is referring to Haiti becoming the first Black-led republic in the world when it fought for and won independence from France in 1804. It’s akin to saying that America should have been ruled by the British longer or slavery ended too soon. It’s blatantly racist and insults our most cherished American value: freedom.

Fast forward a year later, Krikorian was again offering his opinion on Haiti, this time in The Boston Globe:

“[Krikorian] said the Haitians should return to their homeland, because the visas were supposed to be for temporary travel. He pointed out that other nations in dire straits, such as Congo, do not receive special treatment.”

On the same day, Krikorian’s colleague David North, also from CIS, wrote an article accusing Haitians of “jumping the visa-backlog queues and numerical ceilings established by Congress” because the Obama Administration was urged to grant Temporary Protective Status to 55,000 Haitians in dire need of humanitarian relief.

This is a tried and true tactic of the anti-immigrant movement in general, and CIS in particular, who loves to play one group of immigrants against another, in an attempt to seem sympathetic to ‘immigration done the right way.’ But the back story of Center for Immigration Studies points to the contrary.

CIS is part of a network of anti-immigrant organizations founded or funded by John Tanton, a white nationalist nicknamed the Puppeteer for having single-handedly shaped the anti-immigrant movement in the United States.

Bigotry is at the core of its agenda. And its stance on Haiti proves it.

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