Haitian Diaspora groups urge Obama to immediately stop deporting Haitians

Two major Haitian Diaspora groups in New York have launched an online petition requesting that President Obama immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians in the wake of the massive destruction caused to the French-speaking Caribbean country by Hurricane Matthew a month ago.

The Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora on Friday launched the petition, saying that they are hoping to build awareness to support it, which, on receiving 100,000 signatures, will require an official response from the White House.

“This petition is to urge President Barack Obama to grant Deferred Enforcement Departure, expand and-or Re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals, including recently arrived individuals who are currently threatened with deportation, based on the devastation of Hurricane Matthew,” the petition says.

It notes that Hurricane Matthew “violently struck Haiti and resulted in the country’s largest humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake.”

The petition says Matthew caused extensive damage, leaving more than 2.1 million people at risk of food insecurity, homelessness, and increase cholera and other diseases.

“It is currently impractical, unsafe and inhumane to deport people into the country at this time,” the petition says. “Haitians are hardworking, law-abiding, contribute to the U.S. economy, as well as supporting their families via remittances.”

The petition is accessed at: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/haitian-diaspora-urges-president-obama-stop-haitian-deportation-now.

Local support

“I want you to know that, in partnership with the Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora, I am supporting an online petition to the White House requesting the President Obama halt the deportation of Haitian nationals, which will allow critical resources in the form of remittances to fund the recovery in Haiti,” Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, who represents the Ninth Congressional District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life on Friday.

“If we obtain 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the community will receive an official response from the White House,” stressed the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, whose Brooklyn district has the second largest concentration of Haitians in the U.S. Miami is reported to have the highest.

In late September, Clarke expressed deep concern about the Department of Homeland Security’s recent decision to resume the deportation of undocumented Haitian immigrants.

“As we are all too aware, over the past decade, Haiti has unfortunately been severely impacted by natural disasters and political instability, which contributed to its status as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and caused extreme hardship in the lives of her people,” she said, adding that she was “particularly concerned about the timing of this DHS action, which occurs just a few weeks ahead of Haiti’s upcoming elections.”

Homeland Security had suspended deportation of Haitians living illegally in the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of the massive earthquake that struck the country in 2010.

Hurricane Matthew’s landfall a month ago further exacerbated Haiti’s plight, prompting the Haitian Diaspora group to launch the online petition, supported by Clarke.

On Friday, the United Nations also warned that, while its seems as if “the world has moved on,” Haiti’s needs remain vast.

The U.N. said this is exemplified by the nearly 600,000 children in need of assistance because of hunger, disease, and malnutrition.

UNICEF also said that there have been at least 1,000 suspected cholera cases among children in the past month.

The U.N. said the total destruction the Category 4 storm inflicted on crops, food stock, and livestock in some of the worst affected areas have left more than 800,000 people in need of immediate food assistance and more than 112,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition.

An estimated 50,000 children have been left homeless and are staying in temporary shelters, said the U.N., adding that another 3,500 children living in institutions need help accessing nutrition, water, and sanitation services.

The U.N. said up to 80 percent of hospitals and health centers in Grand’Anse have lost their roofs. An additional seven health centers in Grand’Anse, four in South and three in Nippes are no longer operational, the U.N. said.

More than 700 schools have been affected, and about 86 schools have been used as temporary shelters, causing school disruption for at least 150,000 children.

Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters in Geneva that, according to the latest figures from the authorities in Haiti, Matthew has so far caused 546 deaths, and injured 438 people.

He said that needs are vast, especially in the areas of quality water, education, shelter, child protection, health, and nutrition.

Laerke said 1.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, with an estimated 40 percent of them being children.

The U.N. emergency humanitarian appeal for US$120 million is far only 33 percent funded, the U.N. lamented.

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