Haiti – October 24, 2013

Reading the Haitian Times unintentionally reveals a few things about the post-earthquake Haiti. There is a lack of daily news stories and it feels as if journalism takes a back seat to the necessities of life.  Many of the stories in the paper come from New York City, which indicates there is a large population of expatriates in the Big Apple.

 

PRIVATE PRISON INDUSTRY PROFITS FROM IMMIGRATION DETENTIONS

For Haitians, immigration to other countries has been a very important issues since the earthquake and appears to be a difficult experience for those trying to get to the United States.  The private prison industry in the US makes profits from immigration detentions.  Those who leave Haiti and attempt to come to the US illegally end up in jail.  Somewhere between refugee status and illegal alien detentions is a subculture of imprisoned Haitians.

While the rate of unauthorized immigration to the U.S. has declined in recent years, the number of immigrant detainees filling private prison beds is on the rise.

Since 2003, the number of detainees increased by 86 percent, and in 2009 half of those detained were placed in privately owned facilities under contract with government agencies. On a typical day detainees fill around 34,000 prison beds. That’s a sharp increase from 2004, when the average number of detainees was 18,000.

In 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained nearly 400,000 people.

In the breach of a difficult decision of immigration, are the invisibility of individuals lost in the storm of politics, profits and mother nature.  The Haitian immigrants seem to have lived in the wrong place at the wrong time and have traveled to meet the same fate.

Miguel McDaniel Jr. / Feet in 2 Worlds

Miguel McDaniel Jr. / Feet in 2 Worlds

 

Rallies to promote immigration reform were held in the US on October 5.

In New York City, the New York Immigration Coalition put the number of attendees at around 5,000, with the march starting at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Colorlines published a photo essay about the rally with images from New York as well as other cities across the country and El Diario-La Prensa reported on the marchers.  “College students, parents, grandparents and small children were among the thousands of people who marched on Saturday in different states in the country,” reporter Juan Matossian wrote.

Javier Castaño with Queens Latino also provided coverage of the march.

Photo by Linda Sarsour via Voices of NY

Photo by Linda Sarsour via Voices of NY

 

TREES AND PROSPERITY

There is a history of deforestation in Haiti that has left much of the island without trees.  The lack of trees leaves the island prone to mudslides, flooding and soil erosion.  The government is implementing a program to help repair the damage.

Deforestation was largely precipitated by people’s need to make a living. In the absence of other viable alternatives, cutting down trees became an feasible option that allowed struggling populations to use trees to make charcoal in order to sell it and support their families.

Deforestation in Haiti’s Artibonite region

Deforestation in Haiti’s Artibonite region

The reforestation strategy is meant to tackle some of the continuing issues of poverty and replenishing the sustainability of the ecology of Haiti.   The argument for the policy can be read in the opinion piece by Venessa Leon. “The national reforestation strategy could be even more progressive by finding a way to help the land and address the poverty issue. Of Haiti’s difficulties, the need to provide adequate housing, decentralize major cities, address severe food shortages and stabilize the environment, continue to be major preoccupations. What if Haitian people, starting with the 320,000 or so displaced by the earthquake, were provided the option to relocate to designated environmental zones where each household is held responsible for reforesting their allotted area, planting a variety of cash crops and possibly turning a percentage of the harvest over to the government’s agricultural ministry towards national production targets? The rise of a food cooperative or other farming collectives could emerge to enable this community to become more sustainable.”

 

 

 

 

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