Facing Mass Deportation, Haitians Sue Trump to Preserve Temporary Protected Status

StoryJanuary 10, 2019
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A New York City trial is challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to end temporary protected status—known as TPS—for more than 50,000 Haitians living in the U.S. Tens of thousands of Haitians were granted TPS after an earthquake devastated their country nine years ago this week. In November 2017, the Trump administration announced it would revoke TPS for Haitians, sparking protests and multiple lawsuits around the country. We speak with Marleine Bastien, executive director the Family Action Network Movement, or FANM, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. She testified on Wednesday as a witness in the trial.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! We end today’s show with a New York City trial currently underway challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to end temporary protected status—known as TPS—for more than 50,000 Haitians living in the U.S. Tens of thousands of Haitians were granted TPS after an earthquake devastated Haiti nine years ago this week. In November 2017, the Trump administration announced it would revoke TPS for Haitians, sparking protests, multiple lawsuits around the country. The trial is expected to go into closing arguments today.

For more, we’re joined by Marleine Bastien, executive director of the Family Action Network Movement, or FANM, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. She testified Wednesday as a witness in the trial.

Welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you live in studio here in New York. You’re usually in Miami, where we talk to you.

MARLEINE BASTIEN: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s happening right now? Are 50,000 Haitians threatened with deportation?

MARLEINE BASTIEN: Yes, they are. And that is why we are in court this week, to show and demonstrate that the Trump administration decision to terminate TPS was based on animus and not on conditions, in-country conditions, in Haiti, and that—

AMY GOODMAN: When you say “animus,” you mean hate?

MARLEINE BASTIEN: That means hate, racism and xenophobia toward immigrants of color, brown and brown—black and brown immigrants, and also other immigrants from Central America and Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: Last year, President Trump reportedly told lawmakers that Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African nations were S-hole countries—but he used the word. And in 2017, he said that recent immigrants from Haiti, quote, “all have AIDS.”

MARLEINE BASTIEN: He did say that. He did say that. And that is why we are in court to ask the judge to restore the rule of law, and so that these 58,000 Haitian families, who are deeply rooted in their communities—they have 27,000 U.S.-born children among them; they are our teachers, our doctors, our nurses; they are our church friends—that they are able to stay.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you say to people who say TPS is temporary protective status—”temporary” means temporary? Talk about what they would face if they were deported to Haiti today?

MARLEINE BASTIEN: Temporary means temporary inasmuch as the conditions are improved. TPS has been terminated before, if the conditions, the in-country conditions, warrant termination. And it’s been done before.

But right now, we know Haiti is still reeling under the worst crisis, natural crisis, in modern history—an earthquake that killed thousands of people. Even the U.S., which is the most powerful nation in the world, it takes years, for Katrina, for example, to recover; FEMA is still intervening and helping families in New Orleans. So, when we talk about Haiti, a small nation, and we’re talking about such—the breadth of the destruction, we know that Haiti is still recovering. We also had the cholera outbreak, only a few months after the earthquake.

AMY GOODMAN: Caused by the U.N.

MARLEINE BASTIEN: And then, a year later, 2016, you have Hurricane Matthew, which quasi-destroyed the entire south peninsula, which is considered the breadbasket of Haiti. That’s where most of the crops, you know, are grown. So, we’ve also witnessed, in the past few weeks, the instability, political instability, worsening everyday, including a recent massacre that is still being investigated right now.

AMY GOODMAN: And during the hurricane nine years ago, 300,000 people, it’s estimated, died in Haiti.

MARLEINE BASTIEN: Indeed, indeed.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what are you calling for right now?

MARLEINE BASTIEN: We are calling for a reinstatement of temporary protected status, because when we look at the earthquake, when we look at the cholera outbreak, when we look at Hurricane Matthew, each could qualify Haiti for a redesignation of TPS today. Haiti qualifies today.

So, we’re going to remove people who are gainfully employed, who are employers, who employ people, who are homeowners, who are parents? We’re going to separate them from their children?

So we’re asking for a reinstatement. And we are also asking Congress to find a permanent solution, so that these hard-working individuals, who are contributing so much, paying taxes, investing in a pot that they won’t even be able to use if they become incapacitated—I don’t know if people realize that. TPS recipients are working, paying taxes. Yes, they’re not qualified for any benefits, any resources, even though they become incapacitated. So, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we will certainly continue to cover this story.

MARLEINE BASTIEN: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Marleine Bastien, executive director of FANM, the Family Action Network Movement.

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Part 2: Jonathan Katz on How the World Came to Save Haiti After Quake and Left Behind a Disaster

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