marlienebastien_fc.jpgThe news has gone around the world.

Thirty thousand Haitians are targeted for deportation by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).  Just imagine, 30,000!

They’ve lived here for a minimum of 10 years.  Two weeks ago, ICE tried to deport a Haitian woman who has lived in Miami for 17 years! She is allowed to stay for now. She was fitted with an ankle bracelet that monitors her whereabouts, just like a criminal, except that she has not committed any crime!

So, we’re talking about well-grounded, law-abiding, hard-working citizens for the most part, including half a million children, the majority of whom were born in the U.S.

Haitian families that were together dating back 10 to 17 years ago have an average of five children (or more) per family.

Marguerite Laurent, president of Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, wrote: “Why does Obama’s Homeland Security feel it must deport 30,000 Haitians now to storm-ravaged, famine-stricken Haiti? How many others, from different nationalities, have been ordered deported, and why aren’t their figures being revealed? How many undocumented [immigrants] from European countries, Latin America, Asia, et al have been similarly ordered, by U.S. federal immigration judges, to be deported – 500,000, 200,000, 10,000?’’

She continued, “How many in comparison to the numbers for Haiti? Are Haitians being singled out here? We know that Haitians are disparagingly treated in relation to other nationalities… What will be resolved with this enforcement as to Haitians, especially, when the U.S. has said it wants to assist in Haiti’s development, stability, reconstruction and recovery from the natural disasters of September 2006! We know that the Haitian Diaspora's $2 billion in annual remittances is the most effective and direct financial assistance to the poor in Haiti.”

The key question is: Does President Obama support these actions? If not, why hasn’t he stopped this madness! Does he understand what these 30,000 people have lived through under the Bush administration?  Does he understand how it feels for these bona fide immigrants to live in constant fear of being ordered out of their homes in front of their spouses and children in tears… handcuffed and hauled to detention centers around this country?

I understand that the state of our economy is his first priority. But he promised to change the racist policies of the Bushes vis a vis the Haitians! 

If he has time to travel to Canada, then he certainly has time to sign an administrative order to stop the suffering of Haitian-Americans here who have put their trust in him. They believed him when he promised to end the misery of their brothers and sisters!

It makes good economic sense for our president to help Haitian immigrants!  Haitian immigrants are rudes travailleurs (French for hardworking individuals), entrepreneurial and trustworthy.

Like most immigrants, they contribute to the economy here, their remittances support and keep their families in Haiti.

An equally strong argument can be made for their U.S.-born children.  Do they stay here or accompany their parents to quasi-destroyed Haiti? 
If they stay here, the cost to shelter half a million U.S.-born children would be astronomical.

The psychological and emotional costs are immeasurable!  Forcing children to live without their parents will leave eternal scars.  The toll on these young lives will haunt this country forever!  

If forced to go to Haiti with their parents, many will suffer the fate of many of Haiti’s children: untimely death due to unclean water, lack of access to health care and malnutrition!

Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (FANM), or Haitian Women of Miami, Inc., the  Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, and Catholic Charities Legal Services recently sent an open letter to President Obama, signed by almost 200 national human rights and religious organizations.

We pray that common sense will prevail, and our children will be saved!

Bondye ap di youn mo kanmenm!  (Creole for “God will say something, no matter what!’’)

P.S. Send your e-mails to President Obama

Marleine Bastien is the founder and executive director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (FANM), or Haitian Women of Miami, Inc.