Haitians to make voices heard in Washington rally

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NEW YORK, Jan. 12, CMC – A Haitian group in Brooklyn is expected to be among nine bus loads of immigrant activists from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island in New York, who will depart before dawn on Saturday for a trip to Washington, intent on making their voices heard.
The  Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees will be among demonstrators blasting protest playlists, while carrying posters and flags, from the familiar rainbow to the worn colors of Haiti, reported the New York Times on Thursday.
The paper said the groups are not going to the better known Women’s March on Washington, planned for January 21, the day after Donald J. Trump’s inauguration.
Instead, they are heading to the nation’s capital for a more modest rally focused on the rights of immigrants, called  “We are here to stay”  and scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, the Times said.
Ninaj Raoul, a founder and executive director of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees said she had seen the immigration rights movement focus on the ultra-organized Latino community since the 2012 election, according to the Times.
But she said Black immigrants, who are far less likely to be undocumented, have pressing issues of their own.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important for the Haitian voice to be heard in this movement,” Raoul said. “Not just for the incoming government, where we have so many reasons to be worried, but for the current government because of the actions they’ve taken on Haitian immigrants.”
Over the last several months, she said more than 80 Haitian immigrants have walked into her Brooklyn office seeking help, anguished by the shifting American policy that has left them separated from family members, according to the Times.
She added that those living in New York, because of temporary protection granted after their country’s 2010 earthquake, do not know how long that will last.
The Times said migrants from Haiti have flooded the southern border of Mexico since last spring, many making dangerous jouneys through nine countries after fleeing South America.
In September, the Obama administration detained Haitians at the US-Mexico border arriving without visas and ordered deportations.
It said some pregnant women and mothers with children were given a temporary humanitarian reprieve to stay, but their husbands were deported.
After Hurricane Matthew struck disaster-prone Haiti in early October, the US administration delayed deporting Haitians, but it then resumed deportations in November, the Times said.
It said, for Haitians who have been living in the United States with temporary protection granted after the earthquake, that status that is set to expire in July.
Raoul said, because Hurricane Matthew damaged food supplies, those Haitians did not know if they could return, according to the Times.
So Raoul said Haitian immigrants are going to Washington to appeal to President Barack Obama “while they still can.”
They want him to take executive action to grant Haitian migrants at the southern border permission to temporarily enter the United States on humanitarian grounds, and to extend the temporary protections for another 18 months, the Times said.
It said Raoul plans to bring 10 Haitian immigrants, and their country’s flag, to Washington.
The Times said they will take the bus from Sunset Park in Brooklyn with 55 young people representing Atlas D.I.Y which serves undocumented immigrant youth in the neighborhood.
“As an organizer, the 14th is a date that I feel safe mobilizing people to Washington,” said Natalia Aristizabal, of “Make the Road New York”   one of the rally’s sponsors. “We don’t know what’s going to happen after the inauguration.”
National and local organizers said they were concerned about the possibility of undocumented protesters being arrested during the new administration, “especially since Trump said he planned to deport the two million to three million undocumented immigrants that he said had criminal convictions,” the Times reported.
Cristina Jiménez, the executive director of  “United We Dream”  the national organization promoting the interests of undocumented youth known as dreamers, called the threat to immigrant communities “imminent,” adding: “To be quite frank, we fear the worst.”
Part of the mission statement of the Women’s March calls on “immigrants of all statuses” to attend the January 21 rally, the Times said.
Organizers of the immigrant rally said that their protest aims to highlight the disparate groups who make up their movement, and who represent the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, according to the Times.
Trump has reportedly taken the first step toward confirming one of the worst fears of undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants who have taken advantage of a program that grants them temporary stay in the US.
According to New York’s Vice News, a US Department of Homeland memo reveals that the president-elect’s team is “poking around the agency” for information about recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA.
Obama started the program through an executive action in 2012 as a way for undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to achieve two-year status in the US to work or attend college, Vice News said.
While Trump pledged to immediately terminate   DACA on his first day in the Oval Office, immigration groups worried he would take his hardline policy a step further and use personal information gathered thorugh the programme to locate undocumented immigrants and pursue deportations.
According to Vice News, DACA offers applicants the opportunity to legally work, apply for a social security number, get a drivers’ license, and travel to and from the US.
It said only those who entered the US before the age of 16 and had not turned 31 before Obama created the policy can apply for the two-year status with US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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