Temporary Protection Status

So, if this article is true (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article146100224.html) then we have a big problem on our hands.

Actually we have a number of them – but this is one more. Let me see if I can explain this……

On January 12, 2010, Haiti changed forever. A 7.0 earthquake shook the city of Port Au Prince and the surrounding area for 35 seconds. Instantly thousands of buildings collapsed, an estimated 300,000 people died and more than 1 million people were injured.

At the time of the earthquake, I was on the board of an orphanage in Haiti and we (along with many others) were able to obtain humanitarian parole – a governmental term for “get the kids in process out of Haiti and finish the adoptions once they are home” for the children in process at our orphanages.  Between the United States and Canada, we sent a vast majority of the children at the orphanage home to their adoptive families during that time.

I was not aware of it at that time, but in addition to that, the US Government was adopting a piece of legislation called “Temporary Protection Status.” My understanding of it is that if you were from Haiti and were in the United States, whether legally and your visa was going to expire or you were here illegally, the temporary protection status meant that you could stay in the United States.

Apparently, there is someone inside the current President’s administration that is saying, “We should no longer allow temporary protection status to apply to Haitians because their country has recovered and no longer needs to have this aid in place.”

Let me make a couple of points about that……

First, there are some places which, at least on the surface, appear to have recovered nicely,. Often there are ‘behind the scenes” stories that you don’t see – like the staff at the hotel who live in tar paper shacks or underneath tarps. Like the women who have lost more sons and daughters to malnutrition than you or I could dare even contemplate

Secondly, there is an ever increasing food crisis happening in Haiti. Between droughts in some areas and flooding and storms in other places, the agricultural arena in Haiti is in rough shape – many would say that it is in rougher shape than it has been in years.

Third, Hurricane Matthew. To say that Matthew caused significant damage to southern Haiti would be an understatement. One of the many differences between the earthquake in 2010 and the hurricane in 2016 is that the earthquake hit an urban area and the devastation was immense and complete. Hurricane Matthew hit an agricultural area. And it was an agricultural area that revolves around crops that take a long time to grow. You can plant certain plants and get a crop later that year. Some of the crops grown in the southern Peninsula take 3 to 10 years to grown the first crop. So a hurricane in 2016 will most likely take from 2021 to 2026 to regrow and start producing enough to feed the farmer’s family.

And there is soil damage. Apparently, the storm surge that came with the hurricane pushed millions of gallons of salt water up on the farm land in Southern Haiti. This is and will create significant problems in attempting to grow crops in that soil.

So with all of that, what does the US government want to do? According to the article in the Miami Herald, they want to deport 58,000 Haitians who are living in the US under Temporary Protection Status.

Why? Well, they are saying that Haiti is in “good shape” now.

I would love to believe that. If they were, then organizations like The Apparent Project, Real Hope for Haiti, Ebenezer Discipleship training center, Hope House and more wouldn’t be needed.

But they are.

And we need to do something. What do we do?

Pray. Because God cares about these 58,000 Haitians more than we do.

Write/email/call your senators and representatives in Washington and let them know that you don’t approve and you don’t believe that Haiti is in better “enough” shape to end Temporary Protection Status and increase the population in Haiti by 58,000 people.

58,000 people when the unemployment rate is already over 70%.

58,000 people when there are already thousands and thousands living in tents and other “partial”” shelters.

58,000 people who deserve better.

I know some of you are going to say, “but wait, it’s supposed to be temporary!”

The first time I visited Haiti was in 2003, so 14 years ago. Can I say that a I’ve seen any significant country wide improvement since then?

No – sporadic partial improvements yes. But we need to keep working for system wide changes before those 58,000 can even have a fair chance to go back to Haiti and be part of an economy and a country that can support having them live and work there.

Now is not the time to deport 58,000 Haitians to a country that is already in crisis. We’re better than that.


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