Haitian American legislator condemns disparaging remarks about Haitians

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NEW YORK, Dec 26, CMC – A Haitian American legislator has expressed outrage over disparaging remarks allegedly made by United States President Donald J. Trump about Haitians.
“As a proud Haitian-American elected and an adoptee of the Nigerian community, I’m disgusted by alleged remarks made by Donald Trump on Haitians having “Aids” and “Nigerians living n huts,” tweeted New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants.
“I condemn his remarks if true and demand an apology,” said Bichotte, the first Haitian from New York City to be elected to New York State Assembly, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
The Harlem -based Haitian Roundtable (HRT) – an organization comprising Haitian-American professionals – also denounced, as “reprehensible” Trump’s alleged remarks.
“AIDS is a pandemic that cannot be combatted by perpetuating stereotypes, as evidenced in the 1980s, when the CDC (Atlanta, Georgia-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention) wrongfully maintained that Haitians constituted a ‘high-risk’ group for HIV AIDS,” HRT said in a statement. “Unfortunately, President Trump has a track record of incendiary statements about communities of colour who make America great.
“Haitians have contributed to America since its inception – from the volunteers who fought alongside the American rebels in the Battle of Savannah in 1779, to the founder of Chicago, to the thousands of doctors, lawyers, musicians, teachers and other hard-working Haitians who help make a better America every day,” it added.
“If the New York Times report is accurate, this behaviour is beneath the dignity of the Office of the President,” HRT noted.
The Times reported over the weekend that Trump exploded with vitriolic and racist comments, in a heated White House meeting with his top policy advisors in June in attempting to advance his immigration agenda, saying that all Haitians have AIDS and mocking Nigerians — during a heated White House meeting about immigration.
According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, the paper said Trump then began reading aloud from a document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting.
The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017, the Times said. It said more than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.
Haiti had sent 15,000 people.
‘“They ‘all have AIDS,’” the paper said that Trump grumbled, basing its information on “one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.”
But Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied the Times story saying that senior officials who were present during the meeting denied hearing the Trump make those “outrageous claims”.
Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, said that Trump’s immigration agenda is simply motivated by racism.
“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of colour coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” said Sharry, an outspoken critic of the president.
“He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”
Trump’s alleged remarks come as myriad politicians and community activists in the US have denounced his administration’s decision to deport nearly 60, 000 Haitians living in the country under Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Last month, Black Democratic congressional leaders joined Caribbean legislators in expressing outrage over the decision.
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said she made the decision to terminate the TPS designation for Haitians, with a delayed effective date of 18 months, “to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019.”
But US Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Immigration Working Group, Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, and Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, CBC chairman, said, in a joint statement, that they were outraged by the decision that now forces the Haitian immigrants to return home.
They noted that the massive earthquake in the French-speaking Caribbean country killed more than 300,000 people in 2010, disrupted the function of civil society, displaced families from their homes, closed schools and social service agencies, created instability in the government and undermined the economy.
The Black congressional leaders said these conditions were exacerbated by the cholera epidemic, subsequent hurricanes and food insecurity crisis, “which continues to this day.”
Bichotte told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that she was “equally saddened and angered” by the decision.
“For anyone who has been to Haiti in recent months, it is clear that the administration’s decision does not coincide with the dangerous reality on the ground,” she said, adding “the return of tens of thousands of people is only going to make conditions worse.”
According to the New York Immigration Coalition, about 5,200 Haitians with TPS live in New York City and about 59,000 in the United States since the massive earthquake.

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