CSMS Magazine Staff WritersThey were young, old, tired, hungry and dehydrated after spending twenty two days on the high seas in a desperate attempt to reach the Florida shores. Believe or not, they have beaten the odds, braved shack-infested waters and moved undetected by the U.S. Coast Guard to land early this morning at dawn in a small vessel. They were quickly rounded up. According to the Border Patrol and, of course, the local news media, their chance of being allowed to stay is slim. We all woke up with an all-too-familiar scene. As always, it was impossible not to be shock. After receiving a quick meal offered by one of the restaurant owners along the shorelines, the Haitians were taken to the Border Patrol Headquarters in Pembroke Pines, about 15 miles north of Miami, where they were being processed before taking to the Krome Avenue Detention Center. Haitians are not Cuban refugees, and therefore “all illegal Haitian immigrants are deportable,” said one Miami lawyer. Shame on him. If it is illegal to enter US waters in an attempt to seek a better life, it is equally immoral to send these courageous people back to a homeland rocked by violence, kidnappings and economic starvation. It is no secret that Haiti is living one of its darkest days of its history, and it should be based upon these horrible circumstances that our fellow Haitians be allowed to stay.
Late this afternoon, CSMS Magazine has learned that the refugees were placed under “fast deportation proceedings,” meaning they would not be granted due process. They will not be given a lawyer to present their cases before a court of law—in clear and gross violation against all international law, including the Geneva Accord on international migration. Haitian activists, Marlene Bastien and Lucie Tondreau flanked by Haitian refugee lawyer Cheryl Little gave a press conference to denounce unfair treatment of Haitians while other groups, especially Cubans, are sometimes given heroes welcome. “Time is running out. The entire community needs to mobilize against the immigration authorities to demand equal treatment for our fellow countrymen,” said Marlene, who called for a massive demonstration in front of the Border Patrol Headquarters in Pembroke Pines. It was not clear whether the demonstration was going to materialize. However, CSMS Magazine reporter, Chantale Jimenez, has reported a sit-in of few dozen people took place there this evening.
Political in-fighting paralyze the Haitian community
The Haitian community is not what it used to be 20 years ago—a vanguard in the fight for justice against immigration biases. The biggest cause for this paralysis is a complete inefficiency of community leaders. Many of those who claim to be leaders are only motivated by one thing: how to make money off our Haitians refugees. Added to that, there is a vexing thirst for political power through elected positions, whether it is in Tallahassee or in South Florida. There is nothing wrong with that, when newfound power could be used to empower the community. To often, however, it is not the case. It is rather a selfish, self-fulfilling, egocentric dream that is being realized while using the community as stepping-stones to achieve it. They lost badly during the last local elections, due to their own infighting. The fight for justice seems to be a thing of the past while the Haitian community is plagued by all kind of social problems—from rampant unemployment to teenage-delinquency to housing shortage etc… As our weather-beaten refugees are being squeezed between the walls of the Border Patrol tonight, isn’t it the opportune time to rally the community around this cause for justice? A massive demonstration MUST take place tomorrow in front of the immigration building to demand an immediate halt to all deportation. Many people are willing to take them into their homes, and many of them have relatives living in South Florida.Let’s give our Haitians brothers and sisters a chance to stay under the TPS (Temporary Protective Status) status!Also see René Garcia Préval took the oath of office yesterday. Will the tide finally begin to turn in favor of our battered Motherland?