October 20, 2016
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Democratic Candidate for President of the United States
1 Pierrepont Plz, Brooklyn, NY 11201
As you know, Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti, affecting two million Haitians; stranding hundreds of thousands; killing at least 1,000; obliterating tens of thousands of homes; destroying and inundating towns, livestock, crops, and livelihoods; and causing a surge in cholera cases.Florida-based leaders and organizations, we write with a non-exhaustive list of priorities, manyof which are especially urgent now. They include the need for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to promptly redesignate Temporary Protected Status for Haiti, expand thearbitrarily and unfairly limited Haitian Family Reunification Program, revert to the pre September 22 parole policy, and release all non-criminal detainees. Matthew has greatly exacerbated the cholera epidemic and requires our government’s short- and long-termfunding and commitment. We respectfully ask you to promptly inform of us of your views onthe following concerns, which are of great importance to the Haitian-American community:
Before Matthew struck, cholera had already killed over 9,300 Haitians and sickened over800,000 since its introduction into Haiti by United Nations Peacekeepers in October 2010. The massive flooding and destruction of water supplies caused by Matthew has worsened thesituation, causing a surge in cholera deaths and infections. We have lost family and friends tocholera, and we live with the threat of losing more of our loved ones. Our community has takenon significant financial burdens, as we support our relatives’ funeral expenses, health care costs,and school fees for children orphaned by the epidemic.
For six years the UN stonewalled and evaded responsibility for its role in Haiti’s choleraepidemic, despite worldwide criticism. The U.S. Government consistently defended the UN’sinadequate response, including by advocating for UN immunity in a lawsuit brought by Haitiansand Haitian-Americans. On August 17, the UN finally shifted position, acknowledging its rolein the outbreak and committing to presenting a significant new package within two months thatwill “provide material assistance” to victims and intensify cholera eradication efforts. OnSeptember 20, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed to President Obama for U.Ssupport for the UN’s new package. It is crucial that the U.S. Government now exercise politicaland financial leadership to ensure the UN’s commitments are followed by robust and transparentaction and that this tragic crisis is finally resolved.
Ask: We ask that you commit to using the United States’ diplomatic powers to publiclyand privately advocate for the UN to implement a robust and victim-centered package,including 1) a full public apology for the actions and practices that caused and sustainedthe cholera outbreak; 2) remedies to victims; and 3) robust investment in choleracontrol and elimination measures. We also ask you to commit to working withCongress, the State Department, and USAID to ensure substantial U.S. funding to supporta just UN response, including compensation for victims and cholera control andelimination. Matthew makes all of this even more urgent.
Redesignate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was granted after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake but protects only those otherwise-eligible Haitians who were in the United States by January 12, 2011. HurricaneMatthew’s devastation warrants prompt DHS redesignation of TPS for Haiti to protect allHaitians in the United States at the time of the redesignation announcement. Matthew’sdestruction has vastly exacerbated Haiti’s pre-Matthew conditions, including the surge incholera, ongoing political and economic crises, and limited recovery from the 2010 earthquake.Removal to Haiti now is completely unsafe and destabilizing, and resource-deprived andinfrastructure-challenged Haiti cannot safely receive, house, employ, or protect additional deportees.
The editorial boards of the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer on October 8and October 18, 2016 respectively; twelve members of the U.S. Senate in their letter to Secretaryof State Kerry and DHS Secretary Johnson on October 13; U.S. Representative Frederica Wilsonin her October 13 press release; and U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings in his October 12 letterto President Obama, among others, have all urged DHS to redesignate TPS for Haiti and to stopdeportations there in light of Matthew. TPS redesignation would protect Haitian nationals,enable them to work and help Haiti by generating significant family-sustaining remittances, andenable Haiti to use its too-scarce resources on disaster recovery. In addition, TPS recipients ofall nationalities are currently ineligible for federal student loans, preventing access to highereducation for promising high school graduates, and also are considered by USCIS to beineligible to adjust their status to legal permanent resident status.
Ask: Your administration should promptly redesignate TPS for Haiti in light of HurricaneMatthew to include all Haitians in the United States as of the date of your announcementof TPS redesignation, and also permit TPS recipients generally to be eligible both toadjust their status to legal permanent resident status and for federal student loans.
Expand the Arbitrarily Limited Haitian Family Reunification Program
In contrast to over 100,000 beneficiaries approved under the Cuban Family ReunificationProgram, only 1,952 Haitians had been approved as of June 30, 2016 under DHS’s arbitrarilylimited Haitian Family Reunification Program (HFRP). This has been extremely disappointing tothe Haitian-American community and defeats HFRP’s stated goal to facilitate orderly outflowand help Haiti recover by generating additional remittances. The program’s denial rate is toohigh and its severe eligibility restriction unfair: of about 100,000 beneficiaries of DHS-approvedimmigrant visa petitions on waitlists of up to 13 years in Haiti, only petitioners whosebeneficiaries are within three years of getting their visas may apply, excluding the majority andvitiating HFRP’s stated goals “to promote family reunification and enable Haitians to send moreremittances back to foster the Haitian economy…[and] to save lives by providing an alternativeto migrating by sea.”
The arbitrary eligibility limitation not only defeats the goals of facilitatingrecovery and orderly outflow but makes applying prohibitively expensive for many, since all ofthe high costs including the per-beneficiary $1,070 adjustment fee must be paid by the third yearif not earlier. This is not what the community fought nearly five years to achieve after Haiti’s2010 earthquake. Expanding the program to the outer years of the wait list would expand thepool of applicants, make HFRP much more affordable for petitioners, and help Haiti recoverfrom the 2010 earthquake and now Matthew by generating far more remittances than at present.The editorial board of the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 18, U.S. Representative FredericaWilson in her October 13 statement, and a September 27 Miami Herald op-ed have all stronglyurged such HFRP expansion.
Ask: HFRP eligibility should be expanded to cover the beneficiaries of all DHS-approvedimmigrant visa petitions, regardless of where they are on the wait list; if necessary U.S.Government resources and capacity in Haiti should be expanded accordingly; and stepsmust be taken to lower the inappropriately high denial rate. Fairness, saving lives,reuniting families, helping Haiti recover, and facilitating orderly outflow require no less.
The August 9 and October 25, 2015 elections fell far short of minimum standards for fairelections. Haitians’ voting rights were violated through a combination of violence, intimidation,irregularities and fraud, resulting in low voter turnout and a loss of confidence in the electoralprocess. Despite the mandatory quota set at 30 percent, only 8-9% of candidates were female.The community has repeatedly expressed its concerns about U.S. support for fraudulent electionsand the political instability this has fostered. Over U.S. objections, Haiti’s interim authoritiescreated a verification commission to restore credibility to the electoral process. When thecommission uncovered evidence of massive fraud and recommended rerunning the presidentialrace, the United States responded by terminating its financial support for the elections. Thisstance has discredited the United States and encouraged political spoilers in Haiti to violentlyoppose the interim government.
Ask: We ask that the United States respect Haitian sovereignty and support the positivesteps being taken by the interim authorities to restart the electoral process on a sounddemocratic footing. We also ask that the United States support efforts to ensure greaterfemale political participation, in particular to support meeting the quota for femalecandidates. We call on the United States to forcefully condemn appeals by interimgovernment opponents, especially DEA fugitive and 2004 coup leader Guy Philippe, toviolently oppose the government.
Denationalization of Dominicans of Haitian Descent
In 2013, the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic stripped Dominicans of Haitiandescent of citizenship, rendering over 200,000 people stateless. According to the UN HighCommissioner for Refugees, this ruling created the largest stateless population in the WesternHemisphere and the fifth largest in the world, the vast majority of whom are children. The rulingeffectively deprives these individuals of the most basic rights and due process, including therights to work, education, access to healthcare, freedom of movement, and even to voluntarilytravel outside of the country that stripped them of their citizenship. As such, if left unaddressed,these serious human rights violations will at best continue to be overlooked and, at worst, befurther exacerbated.
Ask: We call on you to commit to engage and strongly urge and insist that the Dominicangovernment enact laws and policies repealing the 2013 Constitutional Tribunal ruling andreturning the rights of citizenship to all persons born on Dominican soil, regardless ofparental immigration status; cease any and all expulsion efforts and actively pursueending all acts of violence and discriminatory practices perpetrated against those ofHaitian descent; and institute a proper resettlement plan for Haitian migrants deported toHaiti and a repatriation plan to reintegrate back into the Dominican Republic thoseDominicans of Haitian descent who were unlawfully expelled. Your administrationshould engage in diplomatic outreach to guarantee basic human rights to persons ofHaitian descent; should monitor, investigate, and regularly report to Congress on humanrights abuses in the Dominican Republic, including specifically those that can justifiablybe used to invoke the Leahy Amendment; and should if necessary consider imposingeconomic and other sanctions on the Dominican Republic if this crisis cannot be resolvedthrough diplomatic channels.
Revert to the Pre-September 22 Parole and Non-Detention Policy
On September 22, 2016, DHS announced that it would resume “non-criminal” Haiti removals onthe basis of purportedly improved conditions. Economic desperation, political insecurity, theunchecked cholera epidemic and other conditions made this assessment inaccurate and the newpolicy inhumane, unsafe, and destabilizing even before the hurricane, but Matthew’s destructionexacerbates and underscores these facts; Haiti cannot safely receive additional deportees. ManyHaitians had been paroled into the United States at San Diego after surviving traumatic journeysfrom South American countries; the September 22 policy change has separated scores of familymembers from one another by leaving some stranded in Mexico and has resulted in a growingpopulation of non-criminal Haitian detainees at various institutions. DHS Secretary Johnson’sOctober 11 statement that removals will be temporarily postponed in light of Matthew waswelcome but inadequate, and many post-September 22 arrivals remain detained.
Ask: We seek your commitment that your administration will reunite separated families,revert to the pre-September 22 parole policy, release all non-criminal Haitians fromdetention and grant them work authorization eligibility, and postpone action in theirimmigration court cases. Recent arrivals, through San Diego or otherwise, should beprotected by your administration by TPS redesignation.
Black Lives Matter
In addition, we support and endorse the Black Lives Matter 6 point policy demands as ourcommunities are also affected.
Ask: In particular, we echo the call to: “End to the War on Black Immigrants includingthe Repeal of the 1996 Crime and Immigration Bills, an End to All Deportations,Immigrant Detention, and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) Raids, andMandated Legal Representation in Immigration Court.”
We hope to meet with you promptly, Madam Secretary, regarding these urgent communitypriorities and asks, and we thank you in advance for your consideration and prompt reply.
1. 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Monica Russo, Executive Vice
President, Florida Region
2. American and Haitian Economic Alliance for Development (AHEAD), Miami-Dade
Chapter, Yanick Fulguerra, Chairwoman, Miami, FL
3. American Friends Service Committee, Miami Office, Lucio Perez-Reynozo, Director,
4. Americans for Immigrant Justice, Cheryl Little, Executive Director, Miami, FL
5. Catholic Charities Legal Services (Archdiocese of Miami), Randolph McGrorty,
Executive Director, Miami, FL
6. Center for Self-Sufficiency, Edeline B. Mondestin, RN, BSN, Executive Director,
7. Circle of Brotherhood, Leroy Jones, President, Miami, FL
8. Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami, Inc (FANM), Marleine
Bastien, Executive Director, Miami, FL
9. Florida Immigrant Coalition, Inc. and FLIC Votes, Inc., Maria Rodriguez, Executive
Director, Miami, FL
10. Global Haitian Diaspora Federation, Yanick Martin, Executive Director, Miami, FL
11. Haiti First, Justin Manuel, President (Mr. Manuel leads MJM Capital Reality and isfounder and former president of the Haitian American Scholarship Fund), Miami, FL
12. Haitian American Grassroots Coalition, Jean Robert Lafortune, Executive Director,
13. Haitian Empowerment Foundation, Inc (HEF), Ralph Cheriza, President and CEO,
Lake Worth, FL
14. Haitian Diaspora for Democracy and Development, Jimy Mertune, President,
15. Haitians for Democracy in Haiti, Etzer Lalanne, Secretary General, Leesburg, FL
16. National Haitian Student Alliance, Lucson Joseph, Chairman, Miami, FL
17. New Florida Majority, Gihan Perera, Executive Director, Miami, FL
18. Power U Center for Social Change, Ruth Jeannoel, Lead Organizer, Miami, FL
19. Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center, Inc., Gepsie M. Metellus, Executive Director,
20. SEIU Florida State Council, Monica Russo, President
21. Sons of Little Haiti (SOLH) Academy, Ragasten Paul, President, Miami, FL
22. Sosyete Koukouy, Jean-Marie Denis (“Jan Mapou”), President Miami, FL
23. South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, Jeanette Smith, Executive Director, Miami,
24. The Haitian League, Bernier Lauredan, M.D., President, Port St. Lucie, FL
25. United Haitian Students of Florida, Inc., Stervens Pauleus, President, North Miami,
26. Voice of Haitian Americans in the Diaspora (VHAD), Daniel Eugene, President,
Boca Raton, FL
27. WeCount!, Jonathan Fried, Executive Director, Homestead, FL
28. State Representative Daphne D. Campbell, Florida House of Representatives (District
108), State of Florida; Vice Chair, National Haitian American Elected Officials
Network (NHAEON); Miami, FL
29. Hon. Smith Joseph, D.O., Pharm.D., Mayor, City of North Miami, FL
30. Alix Desulme, Vice Mayor, City of North Miami, FL
31. Philippe Bien-Aime, Councilman (representing District 3) and former Acting Mayor,
City of North Miami, FL
32. Michael A. Etienne, Esq., Elected City Clerk, City of North Miami, FL
33. Philippe Derose, former Councilman and Vice-Mayor, City of North Miami Beach,
and former Mayor, City of El Portal, FL (Mr. Derose was the first Haitian American
elected to public office in the United States.); Miami, FL
34. Phillip J. Brutus, Esq., former Member, Florida House of Representatives
(representing District 108, 2000-2006); former Member, Executive and Central
Committees, Florida Democratic Party; former President, Caribbean-American
Democratic Caucus of Florida; Miami, FL
35. Ven. Archdeacon J.Fritz Bazin for the Episcopal Diocese of S.E. Florida; Miami, FL
36. Pierre Imbert, MPA, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Haiti Community
Trust; Senior Advisor on Haiti, The Barr Foundation (2010 to 2016); Deputy
Director, Department of Social Services, State of California under Governor
Schwarzenegger (2008-2010, three years); Director, Office of Refugees and
Immigrants, Commonwealth of Massachusetts under Governor Romney (2005-2007);
and Executive Director, Catholic Charities Haitian Multi-Service Center, Boston, MA
(1994-2005), among other activities; Cutler Bay, FL
37. Soeurette Michel, Esq., M.S.C.J., LLM, The Michel Law Firm, LLC; Board of
Directors, Legal Services of Greater Miami (LSGM); Member, Education Law
Committee, The Florida Bar; North Miami, FL
38. Guerda Nicolas,PhD, Professor, Department of Educational & Psychological Studies,
School of Education and Human Development, University of Miami, Coral Gables,
39. Irwin P. Stotzky, Professor, School of Law, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
40. Meena Jagganath, Co-Founder and attorney, Community Justice Project, Miami, FL
41. Paul-Andre Mondesir, Haitian Community Social Advocate and organizer, American
Friends Service Committee, Miami Branch, Miami, FL
42. Jack Lieberman, Co-President, Progressive Jewish Action, and former President,
American Jewish Congress, Southeast Region; Miami, FL
43. Michael D. Ray, Attorney at Law and former President, American Immigration
Lawyers Association, South Florida Chapter, Miami, FL
44. Brad Brown, former President, Miami-Dade Branch, NAACP; Miami, FL
45. Ira. J. Kurzban, Esq., Board Chairman, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
(IJDH); former President, American Immigration Lawyers Association; former
counsel to the Government of Haiti; Miami, FL
46. Neil D. Kolner, Attorney at Law, Miami, FL
47. Candace Jean, Attorney at Law, Miami, FL
48. Nancy Trevino, Community Organizer and Advocate, Miami, FL
49. Stephanie Kienzle, blogger, VotersOpinion.com, Davie, FL
50. Steven Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy
in Haiti (IJDH); Miami Beach, FL
51. Orisseau Acelas,Pharm.D, Rph, Wellington, FL