Haitians face expulsion from the U.S. and the Dominican Republic

Aug. 2018 Haitians DR (Savino)

Marginalized workers of Haitian descent join May Day 2018 march in Santo Domingo, D.R. (Photo: Tony Savino / Socialist Action)

By MARTY GOODMAN

Haitian immigrants face a double-barreled wall of racism, from Donald Trump as well as from the historic racism of the ruling class of the Dominican Republic, which shares its border with Haiti.

After decades of racist bipartisan immigration policy toward Haitians, in November 2017 Donald Trump revoked the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) of 58,000 Haitian immigrants. The administration announced that TPS for Haitian nationals will expire on July 22, 2019. Some 27,000 U.S. citizen children face family separation. Obama granted TPS to Haitians in the wake of Haiti’s catastrophic January 2010 earthquake, causing over 200,000 deaths and displacing 2 million. But Haiti is now “safe” to return to, said a recent White House statement.

In recent years, Haiti has seen a death toll of 10,000 and 800,000 infected from a cholera epidemic, multiple hurricanes, the still uncompleted earthquake clean-up, 40% unemployment, anti-government unrest, and mass expulsions from the Dominican Republic. Haiti cannot accommodate a massive influx from the United States!

The policy is consistent with Trump’s racist anti-Haiti remarks: a “shithole” country, Haitians “all have AIDS,” “why would we want any more Haitians?” and his call to “take them out” of a proposed bipartisan immigration deal.

Trump had already cut TPS from 1000 Sudanese, 5300 Nicaraguans, 9000 Nepalis, and 260,000 Salvadorans—who will all have to leave the U.S. in 2019 if they can’t win residency. Some 275,000 U.S.-citizen children of TPS holders are affected. Also impacted are Queer and trans people who fear violent attack.

A suit filed on March 15 in New York claims violations of law and the Constitution by Trump administration officials with racial hostility toward Haitians. Bringing the lawsuit is the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) and the law firms of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli and Pratt P.A, (Kurzban). The suit includes a dozen plaintiffs, including Haïti Liberté, the largest weekly Haitian newspaper, and Family Action Network Movement, Inc. (FANM). Co-counsel Ira Kurzban, said, “Make no mistake, Trump’s decision to terminate Haitian TPS is motivated by his repellent bias towards Haitians and other people of color.”

Mobilizations of immigrant rights advocates have spread throughout the U.S., protesting the elimination of TPS and DACA programs. On July 26, one such demonstration was held in downtown Manhattan, sponsored by at least two-dozen activist immigration forces. The action attracted 300.

Meanwhile, inspired by Trump, racist Dominican politicians have called for building a wall at the Dominican-Haitian border. In May, there were 11,000 expulsions at the border and of 5000 Haitians living in the DR. During the first three months of the year, nearly 35,000 Haitians were deported. There are 750,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic—with over 200,000 subject to possible deportation.

The Dominican Deputy for the National District, Vinicio Castillo, has said, “For me, there is a crucial issue for the Dominican Republic, its sovereignty. … We are experiencing a peaceful invasion of an indigent population.” Castillo has vowed he would collect more than 300,000 signatures for a wall, promote a bill, and possibly a national referendum.

In the past, U.S. military personnel have assisted the DR, a staunch anti-communist ally, at its border, providing training and technology. Moreover, Haitian paramilitary trained undisturbed in the DR before launching two bloody coups—in 1991 and 2004.

In 2013, the Dominican government targeted Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent with a racist court decision known as “La Sentencia 168/13,” which stripped citizenship rights from more than 250,000 individuals whose families had immigrated to the DR since 1929. The DR government has deported tens of thousands, although many have never been to Haiti. Tens of thousands fled deportation and mob violence. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have demanded a halt to the expulsions.

The Dominican ruling class has historically promoted what’s called “anti-Haitianism.” In 1937, up to 40,000 Haitians were murdered in a few days by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. Anti-Haitianism portrays everything “black” as bad. Anti-Haitianism is used as a scapegoat for the government’s failed economic policies dictated by the U.S.-dominated World Bank.