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…)