24 - 09
By Sami Disu
Yesterday, the two announcements handed down by your administration dealt a major blow to black immigrants in this nation. The decision from the Department of Homeland Security of a policy shift towards resumption of deportations of undocumented Haitian nationals can only be described as an affront to basic human rights and dignity.
Haitians depend on the financial support sent by relatives living abroad which have proven more valuable to economic recovery than the billions in international aid that has generated little to no reconstruction. This policy shift is also happening in the midst of a full-blown social crisis in Haiti with the reported tens of thousands of Dominico-Haitians being deported from the Dominican Republic. Respectfully, Mr President, your team of advisers should have aggressively influenced you away from such a policy that will only worsen recovery efforts in Haiti.
Similarly, a second announcement informing of the final -and token, six-month extension of Temporary Protected Status for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was devastating to blacks. As a member of a vibrant coalition that has been campaigning for equity for Africans on the TPS issue this news was heartbreaking, even cold.
In spite of the efforts of a broad-based coalition, which gained the strong backing of Rep. Yvette Clark, Rep. Jose Serrano and Rep. Donald Payne along with 36 other congressmembers, we failed in persuading Sec. Jeh Johnson to maintain the program.
It is appears irrational and even callous, to end this program in six months for countries recovering from the worst Ebola outbreak on record while maintaining the programs of countries like El Salvador and Nicaragua. These Central American countries continue to benefit from TPS over 15 years after the natural disasters that were the basis for their TPS designation.
To be sure, members of the TPS coalition have voiced strong support for other TPS programs. Accordingly, we are extremely disappointed at this decision to end TPS for the three West African countries–a consequence of the inconsistent applicaton of TPS criteria. Mr. President, how can Sec. Johnson suggest that the living conditions in the three West African countries have improved enough to end the program in just two and a half years while continuing to accomodate recipients from other countries that experienced natural disasters 15 years ago? Any objective analysis of the quality of life in these three countries would conclude that the decimation of healthcare infrastructures and dire economic conditions would make repatriation an irresponsible policy position.
Yet, your administration has effectively, ended TPS for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone despite the program’s own stated policy of not returning people to countries, “where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. “
Respectfully, Mr President, the disparities in treatments of black immigrants compels advocates like me to conclude there is a double standard for our people on immigration policy. The TPS issue presents glaring cases of discriminatory treatment of black immigrants. US immigration policy, in this case, leads to the hampering of the development agenda of Haiti, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
As a concerned advocate for TPS and the broader issue of immigration reform, I am asking you, President Obama, to heed our people’s calls for maximum consideration on such humanitarian programs. Our families struggling to rebuild countries recovering from conflicts and natural disasters depend on the financial and moral support provided from families in countries like the US.
Mr. President, blacks all around the nation are gearing to participate in the coming presidential elections and it is now incumbent upon you to show us that our black lives matter. There is nothing more important to all of us than our abilities to support loved ones trapped in countries where they are vulnerable. It is not too late to do right by black immigrants in this nation. Treat us equitably.
Contributed by Sami Disu