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Haitians Impatient with Obama Over TPS

In Haiti TPS, Haitians, Obama, RALLY/PROTEST on October 29, 2009 at 8:10 pm

by Francesca Guerrier & Kim Ives

Some 50 Haitians and their supporters held a spirited demonstration in front of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach on Monday, Oct. 26 to demand that President Obama immediately grant Temporary Protected Status or TPS to some 35,000 undocumented Haitians currently in the US.

Obama was at the hotel for a fundraiser for Democratic Florida congressmen Alcee Hastings and Kendrick Meek, who is running for senator.

The demonstration was organized by the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition, Institute of Justice and Democracy (IJDH), Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and Free Haiti Now, all groups which had been expecting Obama to reverse the Bush administration’s denial of TPS to Haitians last December.

“We are all frustrated that more than nine months after President Obama’s inauguration Haitians still don’t have TPS despite the incredibly broad editorial and political support for it, including from the three South Florida Republicans in the US House of Representatives,” said Steve Forester, an immigration lawyer and long-time TPS advocate who presently represents the IJDH in Florida. “And we are doubly surprised that we have not yet gotten a response to our request to at least give people the dignity of the right to work while the administration continues, month after month, to review the propriety of granting TPS, which to us and every objective observer is a no-brainer, based on the four hurricanes and storms that hit Haiti in a one-month period a year ago.”

TPS, which briefly can be granted by executive order to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who are temporarily unable to return to their nation because of a natural disaster, armed conflict, or other extraordinary circumstances. Since it was established in 1990, TPS has been granted to immigrants from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Burundi, Somalia, Montserrat, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Liberia.

Since January, many demonstrations demanding TPS for Haitians have been held in Florida and other states. Over 300 people from Florida and the Northeast traveled by bus to Washington, DC to demonstrate in front of the White House on Jun. 3, and many more turned out for a second demonstration there on Sep. 16.

On Sep. 18, Free Haiti Now, FLIC and Haitian Women in Miami (FANM) held a vigil at Virginia Key Beach on Key Biscayne to call for TPS and to pay respect to the many Haitian refugees who have died at sea. Performing at the protest were Miami artists DJ Khaled, Mecca aka Grimo, and Grindmode. Other celebrities also supported the action and the TPS call including M1 from Dead Prez, Black Dada, Ace Hood, NBA superstar Hudonis Haslem, and three artists from the group Poe Boy: Billy Blue, Brisco and Flo Rida.

“We need the administration to grant TPS or at least, while they are considering it, to grant work permits on a case by case basis to TPS-deserving non-criminal Haitians who desperately need work permits, drivers licenses and the ability to feed their families, pay electricity bills, and send remittances to Haiti which can support up to ten times that number, thereby increasing Haiti’s security and our own,” Forester said.

On Oct. 26, the demonstrators were restricted to a sidewalk across Collins Avenue from the Fontainebleau. The area was heavily guarded by U.S. Secret Service, Miami Beach police and private security guards. The police harassed demonstrators who sought to take pictures of the protest from the street.

Further down the sidewalk, a group of about 100 anti-immigrant “teabaggers” protested Obama’s presence in Miami with absurd signs like “Go back to Kenya” and “Go back to Indonesia” and “Obama = Comunism.” (sic)

Among those who came out to the TPS demonstration were a few Central American farmworkers from Homestead, about 25 Haitians from West Palm Beach, and FLIC staff members.

In March, former Haitian-American unionist Patrick Gaspard, now Obama’s Director for Political Affairs, traveled to Miami to soothe and reassure Haitian leaders that the administration would soon act on TPS. The reprieve he brokered has now expired.

“As far as we are concerned, regarding Haiti, the Obama administration is maintaining the same status quo as the Bush immigration policy,” Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition president Jean-Robert Lafortune told the Miami Herald.

POE BOYS FLO RIDA AND BRISCO FOR TPS FOR HAITIANS

In ENTERTAINMENT, Haiti TPS, Haitians, RALLY/PROTEST on September 11, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Miami FL, FREE HAITI NOW met with Poe Boy’s Flo rida and Brisco Friday Sept 4th at the Hit Factory building to personally thank them on their support for the Tet Ansanm Vigil that will take place on September 18th at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park as a national call to ask President Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status to qualifying undocumented Haitians.
Flo rida spoke about his belief in Equal Rights he said:” I grew up with Haitians around me, they are very hard working people, they believe in education and a lot of them come here to have an opportunity, the opportunity that most Americans take for granted, I believe in equal rights, everybody has the right to eat, to support our families and I definitely believe that the Haitians deserve their rights. The Haitian youth I want to thank for their support , as I said lots of my friends are Haitians, keep on fighting hard until you get your rights, because Yall just as important as Americans.
His label mate Brisco said he would ask President Obama: “ Aren’t Haitians Humans? Aren’t they people? I’m not Haitian, but I speak up for the Haitian youth and I believe they deserve a even bigger voice, people in Haiti have been suffering, the least this administration can do is to grant them TPS considering that the Cubans have their right to stay here, and everybody else too, I just think it’s not fair towards Haitians. I want to tell the Haitian people to stay positive and empowered and powers come in numbers, so as long as yall stick together yall should be fine, Mr Obama you are doing so much for us, all we are asking is for one thing: TPS to HAITIANS NOW!
The Organizing Agencies FANM, FLIC, and FREE HAITI NOW are very thankful to have the support by the Hip Hop Community provided by On Point Entertainment and Marketing.
Nobody should live in fear especially in a free country as the United States, living in fear of raids and not being able to take your sick child to the hospital because of your “illegal” status therefore can’t have a license is simply legally, morally and spiritually wrong.

Event Details and For More Information:
Event: Tet Ansanm TPS Solidarity Vigil
Date: Friday, September 18, 2009
Time: 3:00pm – 7:00pm
Location: Virginia Key Beach Park – 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, FL
Hosting Agencies: FANM, FLIC, FHN, OPEM
Type: Vigil/Rally
Phone: 3057787073
Email: Francesca@floridaimmigrant.org, dmagloire@fanm.org, Francesca@onpointworld.com

Background: Temporary Protected Status is for foreign nationals currently residing in the U.S. whose homeland conditions are recognized by the US government as being temporarily unsafe or overly dangerous to return to (e.g., war, earthquake, flood, drought, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions). TPS would afford undocumented Haitians SSN, work authorization, driver licenses and opportunity to attend school while they are in the US as Haiti recovers from four devastating hurricanes in 2008.

Hip-Hop Record Label, We the Best Music, Urges President Obama to Grant Temporary Protected Status for Haitians

In ENTERTAINMENT, Haiti TPS, RALLY/PROTEST on September 8, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Almost one year since four hurricanes killed approximately one thousand men, women, and children; destroyed 80 per cent of Haiti’s crops; and added over a million more to the homelessness rate in Haiti, ongoing requests for TPS for approximately 30,000 undocumented Haitians in the US continue to go unanswered. Members of the hip-hop community are voicing their frustrations about the treatment of Haitians by the Obama Administration.

DJ Khaled, founder of We The Best Music record label and Ace Hood, an artist on DJ Khaled’s label expressed their wish for TPS to be granted in an interview on September 2, 2009. Ace Hood asks “President Obama not to deport Haitians back but to allow them to stay, give them TPS and give them their freedom.” DJ Khaled added “This is a free country and the land of opportunity, and therefore [Haitians] deserve a chance.”

Ace Hood, whose hometown of Deer Field Beach is that site of Broward Detention Center, a detention center that unjustly incarcerates Haitians and other immigrants pending deportation, pleas for TPS so he can keep his Haitian friends around. He notes that if TPS is not granted it would affect him significantly. “A lot of people I surround myself with are Haitian, they are family,” he continues.

Like DJ Khaled and Ace Hood, other hip hop artists are pushing the Administration for TPS. In an event on September 18, 2009, hip-hop artists will raise their voices to call the youth to action toward President Obama. Poe Boy’s Flo rida, Billy Blue, Brisco, Sak Pase Record’s Mecca aka Grimo, Iconz Music’s Ballgreazy ,Maybach Music Group’s Triple C, 99 Jamz’s DJ Griot, Grindmode, and Des Loc from Piccalo will come together on Friday, September 18th, 2009 for the Tet Ansanm (Heads United) TPS Solidarity Vigil for Haitian refugees lost at sea. The Vigil sponsored by the Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), FREE HAITI NOW (FHN) and On Point Entertainment and Marketing (OPEM) will take place at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park starting at 3pm on September 18th. The Vigil will also feature poets, motivational speakers and local politicians.

Event Details and For More Information:

Event: Tet Ansanm TPS Solidarity Vigil

Date: Friday, September 18, 2009

Time: 3:00pm – 7:00pm

Location: Virginia Key Beach Park – 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, FL

Hosting Agencies: FANM, FLIC, FHN, OPEM

Type: Vigil/Rally

Phone: 305778707

Email: Francesca@floridaimmigrant.org, dmagloire@fanm.org, Francesca@onpointworld.com

Background: Temporary Protected Status is for foreign nationals currently residing in the U.S. whose homeland conditions are recognized by the US government as being temporarily unsafe or overly dangerous to return to (e.g., war, earthquake, flood, drought, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions). TPS would afford undocumented Haitians SSN, work authorization, driver licenses and opportunity to attend school while they are in the US as Haiti recovers from four devastating hurricanes in 2008.

NBA Star, Udonis Haslem speaks out in favor of TPS for Haitians

In ENTERTAINMENT, Haiti TPS, RALLY/PROTEST on September 5, 2009 at 5:45 am

ON THE SET OF RICK ROSS'S CCC VIDEO SHOOT

ON THE SET OF RICK ROSS'S CCC VIDEO SHOOT

In an interview on Wednesday, September 2, 2009, with FREE HAITI NOW, Udonis Haslem (#40), Forward-Center for the Miami Heat spoke about the widespread financial impact of Temporary Protected Status on the U.S. “I shout out TPS because whether we believe it or not, this would affect everybody,” Haslem comments. Haslam who states that Haitians are an integral part of Miami, believes that Haitians here alike everyone else in the US should have the opportunity to work and make an honest living.

Haslem is not alone in his sentiment about the importance of the Haitian community to the fabric of the American culture. Other young celebrities like Poe Boy’s Flo rida, Billy Blue, Brisco, Sak Pase Record’s Mecca aka Grimo, Iconz Music’s Ballgreazy ,Maybach Music Group’s Triple C, 99 Jamz’s DJ Griot, Grindmode, and Des Loc from Piccalo will come together on Friday, September 18th, 2009 for the Tet Ansanm (Heads United) TPS Solidarity Vigil for Haitian refugees lost at sea. They will raise their voices to call the youth to action toward President Obama to grant TPS to undocumented Haitians.

The Vigil sponsored by the Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), FREE HAITI NOW (FHN) and On Point Entertainment and Marketing (OPEM) will take place at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park starting at 3pm on September 18th. The Vigil will also feature poets, motivational speakers and local politicians.

Event Details and For More Information:

Event: Tet Ansanm TPS Solidarity Vigil
Date: Friday, September 18, 2009
Time: 3:00pm – 7:00pm
Location: Virginia Key Beach Park – 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, FL
Hosting Agencies: FANM, FLIC, FHN, OPEM
Type: Vigil/Rally
Phone: 3057787073
Email: Francesca@floridaimmigrant.org, dmagloire@fanm.org, Francesca@onpointworld.com

Background: Temporary Protected Status is for foreign nationals currently residing in the U.S. whose homeland conditions are recognized by the US government as being temporarily unsafe or overly dangerous to return to (e.g., war, earthquake, flood, drought, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions). TPS would afford undocumented Haitians SSN, work authorization, driver licenses and opportunity to attend school while they are in the US as Haiti recovers from four devastating hurricanes in 2008.

-NO MORE DEATHS GRANTS US TPS-

In ENTERTAINMENT, Haiti TPS, RALLY/PROTEST on September 1, 2009 at 2:17 am

TPS NOW

Entrance is FREE Donations are Encouraged

APPEARANCES BY:
DJ GRIOT
BRISCO
BILLY BLUE
FLO RIDA
DES LOC FROM PICCALO
MECCA AKA GRIMO
GRINDMODE
STICHEZ
FLO

SUPPORTED BY:

ON POINT ENTERTAINMENT & MUSIC
ICONZ MUSIC
POE BOY
99 JAMZ
HOT 105

POETS:
MECCA AKA GRIMO
MICHAEL MARTINEZ
WILDA NUBIA PREVIL

Politicians and Community leaders will also be present!

HUNDREDS RALLY TO PROTEST PLANNED DEPORTATION OF 30,000 HAITIANS

In RALLY/PROTEST on March 10, 2009 at 12:20 am

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Wyclef Jean and Buggah D. Govanah delivering a message to the youth and President Obama with Rally organizer Marleine Bastien
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By Francesca Guerrier

POMPANO BEACH, FL:
Over 500 demonstrators gathered in front of the remote immigrant detention jail known as the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida on Saturday, Feb. 28 to demand that the Obama administration stop the threatened deportation of some 30,000 Haitians back to their strife and storm battered country.

The protest was called by Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), Haitian Citizen United Taskforce (HCUT), the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), and the union Unite for Dignity. Officials of Miami Dade County, where most Haitians in South Florida live, assisted by providing buses for protestors coming from Miami, 30 miles south.

The rally was boisterous but peaceful and well-organized. The crowd demanded TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for Haitians, which was previously denied by the Bush administration. TPS has been granted in recent years to nine countries plagued by war or natural disasters: El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan. It allows refugees from those countries to live and work legally in the US. The designation is effective for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 18 months.

After four storms in August and September 2008 brought widespread death and destruction to Haiti, the U.S. government suspended Haitian deportations for three months. But expulsions resumed after Dec. 5, sending dozens of Haitians back to their homeland since then. Between January and December 2008, 1024 Haitians were repatriated, said Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement or ICE.

In February, U.S. immigration officials announced that 30,299 Haitians were subject to immediate deportation back to Haiti.

Jonel Lemy, a Haitian-American lawyer with the Haitian Lawyers Association, told the Sun Sentinel that he has seen an increase in deportation cases in the last six months, even taking the three month reprieve into account.

“Arrests are up,” Lemy said. “People are being arrested as they drop their kids off at school or on their way to work.”

Lending visibility to the rally were hip-hop star Wyclef Jean and his younger sister Melky Jean, who is also a singer. She performed a passionate song in Krey l and said that TPS for Haitians was “only fair.” She founded and helps run the CARMA Foundation which provides shoes and other relief to poor children in Haiti.

Farah Juste, another well-known Haitian singer and activist, took the microphone after Melky to lead the crowd in an improvised song in Krey l: “Prezidan Obama, se TPS nou mande.” (President Obama, we demand TPS).

Lavarice Gaudin, a leader with the long-standing grassroots organization Veye Yo based in Miami’s Little Haiti, addressed the hundreds of demonstrators on behalf of the group’s founder Father Gérard Jean Juste, who couldn’t attend the rally due to poor health. Lavarice telephoned Jean-Juste, who then addressed the crowd by phone, which received him with warmth and enthusiasm.

“What do we want?” Jean-Juste asked. “TPS,” the crowd loudly responded.

“When do we want it?” Jean-Juste continued. “NOW!” the crowd came back.

Other speakers and singers communed with the crowd, expressing solidarity with the Haitians held in the nearby detention center.

Wyclef Jean made a surprise appearance at the rally, which delighted the crowd.. Speaking in English and Krey l, he said he had a message for President Obama, “my President, our President.”

“Haitians are strong in number but not in politics,” he said. “Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. If they deport 30,000 people back to Haiti, we will see 60,000 coming to the USA the following week, only because the country is in bad shape. I left Haiti when I was 9 years old and I believed in the American dream. I think giving justice to Haitians is the American dream. My President Obama, when my parent came here, they didn’t have papers, but they worked hard for 15 years. Like in this situation, if they had been sent back to Haiti, America and the world wouldn’t have had the gift of Wyclef Jean. This is not a Haitian cause. This is a human cause.”

In an interview with Fox TV after his intervention, Wyclef noted that Haitians should receive the same treatment and rights as “my Cubans brothers and sisters.”

“Haitians need to be politically empowered in Florida,” he continued. “Otherwise we will keep on having the same problem.”

“I want to let young people know that if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing,” he told Haiti Liberté. “We need to be strong politically, I encourage young Haitians to study… We have to take part in the Haitian struggle otherwise we fool ourselves if we don’t stand up for ourselves.”

FANM’s Marleine Bastiene asked Wyclef why he had felt compelled to attend a rally that was not in his schedule.

“When I found out this [rally] was happening, I decided to come and ask President Obama to stop deportations to Haiti,” he replied. “Even though he’s dealing with the economic crisis we are facing, Haiti is in extreme crisis, he has to act immediately to stop all deportations to Haiti; otherwise they will have huge problems in the island which will have repercussions back in the US ultimately.”

Of the 30, 000 Haitians with deportation orders against them, 600 are in detention centers and 260 are allowed to stay at home and in their communities, although their movements are monitored with ankle bracelet transmitters.

Haitian President René Préval, who has also asked Washington to grant TPS to Haitians in the U.S., has effectively blocked deportations by having his government refuse to grant would-be deportees travel documents.

“President Obama, the time has arrived to right this wrong,” said Marleine Bastien to the crowd.

The world capitalist crisis and soaring jobless rate in the US put great pressure on Obama to deport undocumented workers, as right-wing politicians urge. But Obama has lots of political capital to lose with Haitian-Americans, one of his power bases, if their undocumented compatriots are deported. Conversely, his administration gains lots of easy political capital if it grants TPS, a very short-term measure which does nothing to address the fundamental injustice of U.S. immigration restrictions and their enforcement.

Clearly, many in the crowd had high hopes that their continued mobilization would sway the Obama administration to grant the TPS that the Bush administration denied. “We will continue to protest and take our message to Washington, and we expect President Obama to support us,” lawyer Jonel Lemy said.

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