How much more suffering before the Obama administration protects Haitians living in the U.S.?

From Restore Fairness blog

On January 12th, 2010, the already impoverished Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, was hit by an earthquake that measured 7.0 on the Richter scale. Frighteningly, that is all that is quantifiable about the disaster at the moment, with thousands trapped under rubble and the scale of destruction to lives and infrastructure yet unknown.

So how much more devastation does the nation of Haiti need to go through before the U.S. administration is convinced that the country is not equipped to cope with the thousands of Haitians who are currently facing deportation back to Haiti?

Between August and September of 2008 Haiti was hit with four tropical cyclones (Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike) which killed 800 people, displaced many thousands, and destroyed the economy of the country. Directly following those disasters the Bush administration faced pressure to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians living in the U.S., a temporary amnesty, given in 18-month increments to immigrants stranded in the U.S.

The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately...Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war); An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane); Other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

But not only did the Bush administration fail to include Haiti within the nations whose citizens are granted TPS (namely Sudan, Somalia, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua), but soon after the Obama administration called for the deportation of 30,000 Haitians that President Bush had ordered. Unable to copy with the influx of so many deportees, the Haitian government ceased issuing travel documents for them, resulting in hundreds of deportees being held in detention centers even after they were flown back to Haiti.

At the time in March 2009, many  expressed outrage at the administration's treatment of Haitian immigrants and demanded TPS for Haitians in the U.S. based on the horrific "conditions on the ground" in Haiti,

Gonaives, Haiti's third largest city, is uninhabitable; most of the nation's livestock, food crops, farm tools and seeds destroyed; irrigation systems demolished; collapsed buildings throughout the country; 800,000 people left homeless and more than 800 dead. USAID estimates that 2.3 million Haitians now face "food insecurity," reeling from prices 40 percent higher than in January.

One year and another natural disaster later, the pressure to grant TPS to undocumented Haitians in the U.S. has reached its peak. On Wednesday, three Republican Member of Congress, Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wrote a joint letter to President Obama calling for immediate granting of TPS to Haitian nationals. Democrat Alcee Hastings added his name to the appeal, stating it was "not only immoral, but irresponsible" to not allow Haitians to remain in the U.S. Additionally, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand addressed a letter to the President saying,

Now is certainly not the time to deport Haitians into an overly burdened country...Haiti clearly meets the criteria for TPS designation and extending it would be one way to help address this catastrophe, as well as alleviate additional burdens on American assistance workers.

Yesterday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano temporarily halted deportations to Haiti, and today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated they may be moving towards TPS for Haitians. As it stands, those Haitians already in detention, such as Haitian activist Jean Montrevil, will continue to remain detained.

In their appeal to Obama, a number of immigrant advocacy organizations such as National Immigration Forum expressed their relief at the U.S. government's support for Haiti but asked for more long term revisions of the immigration policy,

We find some consolation that the Administration is acting quickly to mobilize relief efforts to Haiti. We support the latest Immigration and Customs Enforcement announcement that it is halting all deportations of Haitian immigrants for the time being, in light of the devastation caused by yesterday’s earthquake...These are the right immediate initial responses. But as part of its long term relief effort, the Administration must grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian immigrants who are now in the U.S.

Granting Haitian nationals TPS would release those in detention centers, unite them with their families, allow them to live and work legally in the U.S., and contribute to the economy in the U.S. and recovery of Haiti. It would also help undocumented Haitians across the U.S. Overall it would impact 125,000 Haitians.

When President Obama said, “You will have a friend and partner in the people of the United States today, and going forward,” we certainly hope that support extends itself to aiding those Haitians who are here.

We urge you to sign a petition, sign a letter to Obama and join a facebook group in support of TPS. And if you are looking for a reliable way to contribute to the earthquake, donate here.


CBCer Hastings: 'blood all over the floor'

I suspect Daddy D'Alesandro would have had a few choice words to say about similar commentary from one of his lieutenants!

Just when you thought impeached and convicted judge Alcee Hastings might have assumed the mantle of statesman, he unburdens himself to CQ in a piece last Friday.

Hastings, you'll recall, had supposedly been pretty much promised the chairmanship of the HIC, in place of Pelosi hate figure (and ranking member) Jane Harman - until sense prevailed.

(Or until Silvestre Reyes was chosen, which may not turn out to be the same thing.)

There's more...

Jefferson: Pelosi has to act now

I really hope that the Pelosi and the rest of the House leadership have been working out the angles for weeks.

This is what I've managed in the space of a day or two:

Last time we saw a CBC/Pelosi confrontation, it was the dog that didn't bark. Pelosi passed on Hastings for HIC, and the CBC seemed to suck it up.

Uh oh.

There's more...

Pelosi/Hastings: 'more joy in heaven'...

The wires all have it, so it must be true. As, for instance, Reuters at 1721 ET:

Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, preparing her party to take control of the House from President George W. Bush's Republicans when the 110th U.S. Congress convenes on January 4, told Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, of her decision during a closed-door meeting.

"I advised him that I would select someone else as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee," Pelosi said.

There's more...

Take Your Time, Speaker Pelosi

I'm getting quite irritated at the immediate reaction among white male liberal DC kewl kidz (and Maureen Dowd) to discern catty motives on the part of Nancy Pelosi.  Digby's noted it before, but it's not stopping.  Look at the first two paragraphs in an email that Josh Marshall reprints on Pelosi and the Intelligence Committee from a reader called 'RY'.

Don't assume that there's a strategic logic, however inept, behind the delay in the selection of the Committee Chair. If she knew what to do, she would do it. The problem is: a) She hates Harman; 2)Hastings is blatantly inappropriate (and thus will not be selected, no matter how much the CBC squawks); 3) alternative selections to Harman seem strained.

Therefore, she will likely select Harman anyway--appeasing at least two factions, the Blue Dogs, and the MSM, who will praise her for being centrist and pragmatic, rather than vindictive and "ideological." But she just can't stand the thought of it--thus the delay.

Left out of the whole nasty and myopic rant is any possibility that Nancy Pelosi might want someone who can chair the Intelligence Committee who can do a good job running the Intelligence Committee. Is it so unbelievable that Pelosi might think that Jane Harman is unfit to serve as a check on this President's misuse of intelligence?  Harman did after all vaguely support prosecution of the New York Times for revealing the existence of the eavesdropping program.  And that Pelosi is 'waiting' so long couldn't have anything to do with the fact that she has to organize the entire House of Representatives, could it?  Pelosi has given every indication that she wants the House to function; she's calling the House into session and keeping it in session throughout January so members can get to work.

This smearfest smacks of a combination of stupid good government types and rumor mongering right-wing jerks, all swimming in a sea of shallow idiocy where governing is irrelevant and everything is about 'optics', which is what the kewl kidz call gossip so it doesn't sound so petty and superficial.  I'm with Glenn.

I'd like to see proof that Pelosi's opposition to Harman is purely or even principally personal. I keep hearing this from them, but what is it based on? Personally, I think Harman -- who was one of the most aggressive defenders of the President's warrantless eavesdropping program ("both legal and necessary," she repeatedly chimed) and is currently under investigation for her work on behalf of AIPAC -- would make a horrendous Chair (although Alcee Hastings is one of the few House members who might be less desirable). She has been far too sympathetic to the administration's excesses and far too eager to serve as a Democratic shield publicly defending the President.

How do these all-knowing analysts know that Pelosi's opposition to Harman isn't based on these obvious and compelling substantive grounds, as opposed to the bitchy personal "cat fights" they allegedly have had? They don't know, but they keep repeating it anyway, because it seems to fit comfortably with a picture they are very eager to paint.

Glenn is right.  This Beltway dreck is snide nastiness dressed as commentary.  TPM's email concludes with this paragraph.

Btw, if Pelosi does decide to screw Harman, Holt would be a smart political choice, too, not just on the merits, because this high profile position sets him up nicely to replace octengenarian Frank Lautenberg for the Party's Senate nomination in 2008 (many New Jersey politicos think that Corzine should have picked Holt this time around, rather than the scandal tainted Menendez).

How embarrassing.  While chastising Pelosi for being catty because she has so far prevented Harman from chairing the committee, the reader engages in precisely the emotionally vapid and bitchy characterizations he so laments in Pelosi.  If Harman doesn't get the chairmanship it's because she was 'screwed', not because she is unfit to serve, because Intelligence Committee memberships rotate and Harman's time is up, or because Harman lost a political battle.  

For good measure, this email throws mud at Bob Menendez for being 'scandal tainted', even though there is actually, well, no scandal, and Menendez was just soundly elected by voters who know exactly what they are getting.  Honestly, this is just a suburban white liberal version of bigotry.  I don't mean the rejection of Hastings, because substantively he's a cipher on Intelligence matters and that's reason enough to find someone more suitable to hold this critical post.  I mean the way he's being insulted by the punditocracy.  It's not an unusual situation to have a black man wrongfully accused of a crime in this country, and to so callously throw Hastings aside as tainted, even though he was acquitted of the charges and chosen repeatedly by voters to hold public office, looks insensitive at first, but when you combine this with the needless dig at Menendez, it looks a lot to me like a whole lot of brown people are considered tainted with no evidence whatsoever.  The people of New Jersey elected Menendez and the people of Florida elected Hastings, so attacking them represents precisely that insulting antidemocratic impulse so common in Washington DC courtier culture.  According to this culture, reigning over all must be Speaker Pelosi, who is bitchy and can't possibly want to govern because governing is for silly people, right?

Nonsense aside, the single most important thing Pelosi can do is find a a good Intelligence Chair and make sure he or she has the political capital to fix the mess this country is in.  Doing so could require time to find a compromise candidate, or to work with the CBC or Blue Dogs to assuage egos or horse-trade other committee assignments.  That's what leaders do.  It doesn't always happen fast, and it doesn't always happen at the behest of temper tantrum prone Beltway gossip kidz.  The new Congress doesn't start for a month, and the Committees will be operating for two years under very heavy political and media pressure.  Pelosi should take her time making sure she picks the right person to do the job, and she should ignore these nasty and myopic people.

Oh, and by the way RY, a lot of people in New Jersey think Corzine should have picked their friend to be Senator and not Bob Menendez.  But he didn't pick their friend.  He picked Bob Menendez.  And Menendez stomped Tom Kean Jr into the ground. Gossip-as-evidence against women and minorities seems to be a stock in trade these days, doesn't it?

Update: It actually looks a bit worse for the Pelosi-bashers.

Both Harman and Hoyer belong to the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, which gained at least nine members in the last election and was seen as successfully flexing its muscles during the majority leader tussle. But only 18 members, about half of the coalition’s current total, signed a November 15 letter to Pelosi urging her to make Harman the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.


“She’s trying to stay on, and I know she’s called a lot of people to generate news articles and a lot of pressure on Ms. Pelosi,” said Waxman, who represents a district adjacent to Harman’s on the heavily Jewish west side of Los Angeles. He added, “The Democratic rules have been that the head of that panel is rotated off after a certain period of time… [and] the idea behind it was that we didn’t want members serving on the intelligence committee permanently; we wanted to give other members a chance to serve on it.”

So not only is Harman not actually supported by the Blue Dog caucus (which requires more than half of members to support something before it becomes a caucus position), Henry Waxman is openly accusing her of orchestrating a campaign of public pressure on Pelosi. That's ridiculous.

There's more...


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