U.S. Immigration policy must be applied equally


By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook

Haitians have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States that will end July 2019. Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, has put them on notice that they should prepare to be deported back to their earthquake ravaged, poverty stricken country. Many Haitians with TPS designations have 27,000 U.S. born children which could cause a major family crisis.

Political instability in Haiti after the collapse of the Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorship in the 1980s led to a major influx of Haitians to the U.S. In 1980, there were 92,000 Haitian immigrants living in the United States. By 2015, that number had increased to 676,000, with most living in South Florida, Orlando, New York, and Boston.

While no such policy exists for Haitians or immigrants from Mexico, the Cuban Adjustment Act allows any citizen of Cuba to be admitted to the U.S. and to qualify for permanent residency after being here for one year. In 1995, the Act was revised to include a “wet feet, dry feet” policy that would require Cubans intercepted at sea to be returned to Cuba, while those who successfully made it to the U.S. shore would receive the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act. There is no law that gives Haitians an expedited or any pathway to permanent status in the U.S. And under the current administration, it is very doubtful any such policy will be extended to them. Further, the New York Times reported blatant racist statements by Trump directed at Haitian and Nigerian immigrants. In one quote, Trump stated, “Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They all have AIDS.” In the same article he was quoted, “Forty thousand had come from Nigeria. Once they had seen the United States, they would never go back to their huts.” These statements should not be shocking to anyone who has watched this President say and do things that would be considered repulsive and totally unacceptable by any other occupant of the White House. This is the same President who called all Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, and NFL athletes “sons of bitches” for protesting inequitable treatment of Black Americans in the criminal justice system. And this is the same President who gleefully accepted the endorsement of the Klan and Neo-Nazis.
Though we all should expect much better from our President, this President, sad to say, has normalized lying and boorish behavior to the point it is just accepted from him. Regardless of the person in the White House, however, shouldn’t U.S. immigration policies be applied equally regardless of country of origin, unless security concerns exist? Not so in America. Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, has already notified Haitian immigrants through the Department of Homeland Security that they should begin preparation for deportation by July 2019. They anticipate deporting 50,000 Haitian immigrants by that deadline. It seems this administration takes great pleasure in targeting people of color with his most egregious acts of inhumanity, with the exception of Cuban Americans. This is just one more outrage, ending DACA and causing chaos among Mexican-American families and Dreamers who have done everything right; and the deportation of many people of color who came here seeking the same dream for which Cuban immigrants risked their lives to reach these shores.

Justice and fairness must become an integral part of the U.S. immigration policy, and cannot be left to the current occupant of the White House. Congress must act to provide the checks and balance envisioned by the founding fathers in creating our three branches of government. And we must live up to the creed associated with the statue of liberty to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” or at a minimum to treat all who wish to come to our country the same. We may need a different President and a different Congress to achieve that goal. As America prepares to deport 50,000 Haitians back to a Haiti devastated by political instability, earthquake, and extreme poverty, we should consider a fair immigration policy when deciding who we want to represent us in Congress and Florida in the 2018 Election.

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