Sunday, May 21, 2017

Formerly "protected" Haitians threatened with deportation

Amidst the flood of Trump scandal news last week, it would be easy to miss the growing tally of human casualties. Even if institutional checks partially neuter this authoritarian crew, a lot of people are going to get hurt. The administration's anti-immigrant agenda is hitting home.

Immigration arrests are up 37.6 percent over the first 100 days of 2016. Although Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says the raids focus on "criminals," pickups of people without records of criminal offenses are up 150 percent.

The better news is that the deportation forces are clogging their own arteries. The backlog of immigration cases that need to go before a judge before someone can be deported are up from about half a million at the beginning of the year, to 585,930 cases as of the end of April. Until GOPers in Congress manage to put together a budget and then hundreds more immigration judges can be hired, the backlog just grows. If immigration advocates continue to be able to help with legal aid in many cases, it is going to continue to be difficult for authorities to follow through. The Republican Congress could make legal tweaks which would ease deportations, so Democrats in Congress have a role to play in obstructing cruel legal moves -- and resisters will have a role in keeping their Congresscritters' feet to the fire.

Meanwhile, people who did nothing wrong live in fear -- fear for themselves, fear for their relatives, fear for their children.

We instinctively think of the migrants at risk from the current immigration panic as Latinx, as coming from Mexico or perhaps Central America. And these are the bulk of the people Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is chasing down. But there are many others we should be aware of.

The Trump administration is apparently preparing this week to end the "Temporary Protected Status" (TPS) which has allowed some 50,000 Haitians to stay in the U.S. since the 2010 earthquake which killed something like a quarter million people and left the nation's capital smashed to rubble. U.N. troops sent in to aid the country then brought a cholera epidemic as well as corruption.

The Haitians after all are black -- and citizens of the only nation ever to end slavery via black slave revolt. This Caribbean country has long made the US uncomfortable, and suffered in consequence. According to Alicia Caldwell/Associated Press, now the administration is trying to scare up evidence that the TPS Haitian population are criminals.
The Trump administration is taking the unusual step of hunting for evidence of crimes committed by Haitian immigrants as it decides whether to allow them to continue participating in a humanitarian program that has shielded tens of thousands from deportation since an earthquake destroyed much of their country.

The inquiries into the community's criminal history were made in internal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services emails obtained by The Associated Press. They show the agency's newly appointed policy chief also wanted to know how many of the roughly 50,000 Haitians enrolled in the Temporary Protected Status program were taking advantage of public benefits, which they are not eligible to receive.

The emails don't make clear if Haitian misdeeds will be used to determine whether they can remain in the United States. The program is intended to help people from places beset by war or disasters and, normally, the decision to extend it depends on whether conditions in the immigrants' home country have improved enough for them to return. But emails suggest Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who will make the decision, is looking at other criteria.
It doesn't seem crazy to assume that this is a particularly vulnerable group, stigmatized by race, who the nativists can come after without much legal process -- the project of Making America White Again, one vicious act at a time, continues.

UPDATE: Department of Heimat Security has extended TPS for Haitians for six months.  Good sign, but similar determinations about Hondurans and Salvadoreans are still ahead and raising anxieties among vulnerable people.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

I don't know if it's so much to make America white as to keep out other ethnicites. Don't forget that just before he left office, Obama changed the Cuban policy, which had been if they set foot on our soil, they can stay. We are a people of many ethnic backgrounds, even just those of European extraction, but the fear that our culture (pure as the driven snow) would adopt some other set of beliefs, after finding them preferable, is anathema to many. The other thing is we are bombarded by so much, never more than since Trump got in, that a lot of us become shell shocked-- turning instead to watch somebody tear apart and remodel a home (raising my hand-- yep, that's me). *s*

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