ACTION: The Biden Administration must re-designate TPS for Haiti
“It is critical for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to redesignate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS is appropriate when extraordinary and temporary conditions in a nation make returning its nationals unsafe. There is overwhelming political and civil society recognition that redesignating Haiti for TPS is appropriate because such conditions exist; even DHS officials in internal discussions and documents acknowledge that Haitians they return “may face harm” upon return in Haiti. Nevertheless, and in violation of President Biden’s campaign promise to halt Haiti expulsions, DHS has expelled to Haiti since February 1 about 1700-2100 Haitians, mainly families including hundreds of children, on at least thirty three (33) flights, [This is more Haitians than President Trump expelled during all of FY2020]. This policy is inhumane and contradicts the stated values and promises of President Biden and Vice-President Harris.” [from Steve Forester at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti]
It is hard to imagine anyone in this administration lobbying to continue deportations and expulsions to Haiti under the current conditions, but somebody must be. Meanwhile, halting removals to Haiti is a consistent demand across the spectrum – check the New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, hundreds of human rights activists and organizations, and members of his own party in Congress.
Redesignating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status would mean those Haitians in the United States could stay until the crisis at home is resolved. TPS is a policy often utilized for humanitarian purposes. It was just extended to Venezuela, for example. Because Trump tried to kill TPS for Haiti, and many other countries, Haiti’s earlier designation for TPS (2011) is still being fought in the courts. Redesignating Haiti now would make this earlier case moot, and protect more families from removal. It is the right thing to do, and there is bi-partisan cover to the extent Biden is worried about the GOP backlash.
Actions to take:
- Sign/share the Color of Change petition calling on the Biden administration to redesignate Haiti for TPS
- For organizations, you can sign/share this Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights letter asking for TPS redesignation for Haiti.
Flag Day events on Haiti
May 18 is flag day in Haiti, the anniversary of the adoption of Haiti's flag in 1803. This year flag day will involve much more than cultural celebrations. Here are a few events to check out:
Current realities regarding the gains of Haiti’s 1987 constitution
Haitian Studies Association:
Tuesday, May 18, 4 :00 EDT (Haitian Flag Day)
Moderator: François Pierre-Louis
Jean Eddy Saint Paul
One of the most current issues in Haiti is a referendum scheduled for June 17 for a new constitution called for by the current state. The proposed constitution involves a series of changes.
This panel will discuss the legacy and stakes of the constitution of March 29, 1987, a national consensus after the fall of Duvalier in 1986. The 1987 constitution was written in a very specific context, to implant democracy and human rights. This panel will analyze the gains of the 1987 constitution in today’s context, comparing it with the proposed constitution, asking a range of questions for engaged Haitian citizens to make an informed decision.
Get details, and register here.
U.S. Policy on Haiti and U.S. Position on Haiti’s Elections
with Julie Chung, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Global Public Affairs Event
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM EDT
To register click here
Civil society organizations form “Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis”
The political crisis in Haiti, which has deep historical roots, but is most immediately the result of opposition to the government of Jovenal Moise over the last three years, is entering a new phase with Moise insisting on holding a constitutional referendum in June and then moving forward with elections this fall. Both of these measures are opposed by broad sectors of society. While many recognize the need for constitutional reform, as well as the need for elections for a new government, Moise is not recognized as a legitimate authority to oversee these things. There was broad agreement from across the political spectrum that Moise’s tenure ended on February 7, 2021, and that he should step down to make way for a provisional authority to oversee new elections.
As we have noted, the Biden administration has by and large accepted the Trump policy of demanding elections, and has defended Moise’s argument that his tenure should extend another year (to February 7, 2022). Biden’s administration has voiced concerns about the constitutional referendum, as have a number of other external actors (the OAS and European Union, for example), but there is no sign that they will actually try to stop it.
The impasse over elections, referendum and ongoing instability, is in some manner the result of international actors backing Moise’s position, despite the widespread opposition within Haiti. Moise has often claimed a willingness to dialogue, but has not been willing to compromise much.
A possibly hopeful sign is that a coalition of civil society organizations have formalized an agreement reached back in January to form a commission to promote “Haitian solutions” to the crisis. From the declaration:
In view of the government’s refusal to comply with constitutional imperatives despite massive popular and political mobilizations as well as the political sector’s inability to impose its views with regard to mechanisms of resolution of the crisis, the country is experiencing a political deadlock. From a perspective of change, it is therefore important for us to seek ways and means to rebuild and reestablish our institutions. In the absence of institutions of counter-power, the vital sectors of the country, in a patriotic spirit, are to take action in order to avoid the total collapse of the state and to allow the nation to emerge from this deadlock. As a matter of priority, it is about returning to the normalization of the social and political life as soon as possible via a return to the constitutional order as a guarantee to the functioning of the rule of law and a way to allow citizens to choose their leaders freely and safely in a peaceful atmosphere.
It is in the name of this objective that the Forum of Civil Society Organizations gathered on January 30, 2021 recommended to establish a Commission to work towards a peaceful resolution of the current political and institutional crisis. Based on combined criteria of affiliation to an organized sector of society, notoriety, morality, civic and patriotic commitment, competence and availability, the commission was then established in consultation with various sectors of society. These sectors, in a great display of magnanimity, agreed to contribute to this attempt to find a solution to this crisis, which has already drained the country. As a result, the Commission will devote itself to working together with all the different components of society, including political parties and groupings.
The Commission membership:
- Reverend Father Frantz Joseph CASSEUS / Église Épiscopale d’Haïti (Episcopal Church of Haiti)
- Mrs. Monique CLESCA / Independent
- Mrs. Magali COMEAU DENIS / Kolektif Atis Angaje (Collective of Committed Artists)
- Reverend Pastor, Jean Kisomaire DURÉ / Fédération Protestante d’Haïti (Protestant Federation of Haiti)
- Mr. Evens FILS / Fédération des Barreaux d’Haïti (Federation of Haitian Bars)
- Mrs. Magalie GEORGES / Collectif des Syndicats Haïtiens pour le respect de la Constitution (Collective of Haitian Trade Unions for the Respect of the Constitution)
- Mr. Louis Joël JOSEPH / Plateforme des Organisations Paysannes 4G-Kontre (Platform of Farmers' Organizations 4G-Kontre)
- Mrs. MANIGAT / Plateforme des Organisations Féministes (Platform of Women's Organizations)
- Mr. Maxime RONY / Plateforme des Organisations Haïtiennes des Droits de l’Homme (Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations)
- Mr. Ted SAINT-DIC / Independent
- Mr. Wilfrid SAINT-JUSTE / Voodoo Sector
- Mr. Michel A. PEAN
- A representative of the Haitian Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development
The full declaration is here.
Organization of American States Holds Special Session on Haiti
The OAS held a special session to discuss a proposed OAS Mission to Haiti to facilitate dialogue between various “stakeholders” and the government over the electoral process. The hearing was held on Wednesday and can be viewed here. The OAS had proposed the mission at an earlier session. This latest meeting followed the government of Haiti’s acceptance of the Mission. The Mission itself has not yet been formally approved. The session Wednesday gave foreign ministers an opportunity to express their support or concerns so that a final agreement outlining the terms of the mission can be drafted. It seems likely that this will come to fruition - there was little opposition to the idea.
Dialogue is, of course, to be welcome. If this mission proceeds with full participation across a range of civil society and political groupings, it could very well help. Of course, the concern is that the OAS has thus far been pressing for elections and supporting Moise’s position on tenure. Which means this Mission could end up playing the role of defending Moise’s position and giving it international cover for an electoral process that is (under current terms) widely opposed.
For the hardcore, the full Organization of American States Permanent Council meeting can be viewed here. The discussion on Haiti begins at 1:38 (it follows a discussion on Nicaragua).