Your article, “Lawmaker: Haitians Likely to Be Deported”, on April 3 2007 notes the pending deportation of more than 100 recently arrived would-be Haitian immigrants. Once again, this points out the double standards faced by islanders trying to forge new lives here. Unlike Cuban refugees in the same category, who are aided by a strong presumption that enables them to remain in the country, justice is denied to their Haitian counterparts.
Since 1959, the United States has allowed Cubans to enter the United States under the far-fetched thesis that life under a communist regime is intrinsically repressive. Today, the State Department’s Wet Feet, Dry Feet policy allows Cuban immigrants who physically reach the U.S. shore to legally remain here.
Haitians, by any indicators, live far more threat-filled lives than do Cubans, with their island providing one of the most politically violent settings in the hemisphere. After the overthrow of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a series of administrations took power which committed numerous human rights violations, especially the interim U.S.-imposed puppet regime of Gerard Latortue.
At first, the political situation between the two countries appears similar, except Haiti struggles with woefully fraudulent democratic forms, while authoritarian Cuba operates as a command economy. For purely political reasons, Washington backs this morally irrelevant policy that singularly favors Cuban refugees over Haitians, a policy entirely motivated by Florida’s electoral votes.
Even if Haiti’s stygian environment did not warrant granting these refugees status, the endemic violence gripping the island should justify equal treatment. Washington professes to value liberty, and this commitment supposedly is reflected in its immigration policy towards Cuba, even though most Cubans live more under economic denial rather than repressive political conditions. Because Haiti is the most impoverished country in the hemisphere, the prospects of premature death from strife and hunger are good enough motive for them to take to the seas.
As hundreds continue to flee Haiti in search of better lives, the number of deaths through drowning will increase until the White House chooses to intervene and finally enact uniform immigration policies that will accord Haitian refugees the same rights routinely granted to Cubans.