This story appeared in the November 29, 2017 issue of AL DÍA
“Whether you vote for me or not, I really want to be your biggest champion,” Trump told Haitians in Miami during his presidential campaign. Now, one year into his disastrous tenure at the White House, Trump changed his tune and decided to terminate the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) that has allowed 60,000 Haitians to live and work legally in the U.S. since a 2010 earthquake killed 300,000 people and reduced to rubble their homeland.
Not surprisingly, Trump and his minions couldn’t care less that the great majority of them are gainfully employed, have nearly 30,000 U.S.-born children or that, despite what Washington says, Haiti is in no condition to absorb them.
“Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens,” said the Department of Homeland Security in announcing the decision to cancel TPS for Haitians with what is just another lie, a poor excuse to justify the cruelty of the richest nation in the world toward one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere.
As if the 2010 monstrous seism had not been disastrous enough, since then Haiti has suffered a cholera epidemic brought by UN peacekeepers that killed at least 9,000 people, and the 2016 hurricane Mathew that caused $2.7 billion in damages and added 1,000 more corpses to a long and sinister roster of death. This year, although hurricane Irma did not hit Haiti directly, it still displaced more than 100,000 people and destroyed all-important crops in the north of the country.
Yes, no matter what the Trump people say, Haiti’s reality is a harsh one. According to the World Bank almost a quarter of Haitians live on less than $1.23 per day; almost 60% live under the national poverty line of $2.41 per day, and the unemployment rate is 40%. As a consequence, malnutrition among children is epidemic. Can anyone believe Haiti is prepared to “safely” absorb thousands of returning people as DHS claims?
It is not as if Haitians are taking advantage of U.S. generosity, on the contrary. As Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat wrote in the May 12 issue of The New Yorker, “According to the San Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Haitians with T.P.S. collectively earn 280 million dollars a year in wages, and contribute about 35 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.”
So unfair and unnecessary is the Trump administration’s decision that even politicians like Republicans Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represent South Florida, where the majority of Haitians live, have pleaded with Trump to keep TPS in place.
But as was to be expected Trump, with his contempt for immigrants, utter disregard for justice and appalling lack of compassion ignored them. The man who promised to be Haitians’ biggest champion is happily sticking to his cruel plan to deport thousands of decent, hard-working people, tear apart their families and cause even greater hardship in a country the U.S. should be happy to help since it has invaded and occupied Haiti four times since 1890 with disastrous consequences.