Haiti Update 11/16/18

Deforestation may take all of Haiti’s Primary Forest

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that Haiti may lose all of its primary forest within the next 20 years:

Here, we find that Haiti has less than 1% of its original primary forest and is therefore among the most deforested countries. Primary forest has declined over three decades inside national parks, and 42 of the 50 highest and largest mountains have lost all primary forest.

The impact of this loss has been dramatic. The study is particularly concerned with the resulting loss of biodiversity. The authors find that:

surveys of vertebrate diversity (especially amphibians and reptiles) on mountaintops indicates that endemic species have been lost along with the loss of forest. At the current rate, Haiti will lose essentially all of its primary forest during the next two decades and is already undergoing a mass extinction of its biodiversity because of deforestation.

The loss of biodiversity and forest cover also impacts people’s lives directly, through increased flooding events and mudslides. As a result hundreds of people die each year in flooding events directly tied to deforestation.

Primary forests in this study refer to forests that have not yet been cut by humans – as opposed to secondary forests that are the result of reforestation efforts. While reforestation can have a huge impact in prevention of flooding, secondary forests lack the biodiversity of primary forest cover.

The one weakness in the report is that it lays blame on the poor who clear forests for charcoal and small-scale agriculture. While this dynamic is undeniable, the root cause of these practices is deep inequity in Haiti’s social-economy that drives the poor onto vulnerable land. Protecting forests from such encroachment may be necessary, but absent other solutions that provide avenues for alternative means to make a living, conservation efforts will simply further marginalize the poor. This is why our work in reforestation is first and foremost an agricultural project that integrates tree planting with agro-ecology, water protection, and animal husbandry. There is an inherent value in planting and preserving trees – but neither works sustainably unless accompanied by social practices that respond to the lived reality of the communities most directly affected.

TPS Extended for Haitians

As reported last week, Temporary Protected Status for Haitians will “almost certainly” be extended as the result of lawsuits moving forward in the federal courts. Temporary Protected Status is a special designation that allows people already in the United States to remain here following natural disasters or periods of political instability in their country of origin. Haiti is one of nine countries that have been granted TPS. Last year, Trump announced that TPS for Haitians in the United States would not be extended – and he has moved to phase out TPS for most other countries covered by it. Without an extension, Haitians living in the United States under TPS had until July 22, 2019 to leave the U.S. With the cases moving forward in the federal courts, this deadline will most likely be extended.

Canceling TPS impacts 50,000 Haitians living in the United States, and another 27,000 children born in the U.S. that would either be deported with their parents, or would be separated. Sejal Zota, legal director for the National  Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild writes:

In 2017, Trump announced that TPS for Haitian nationals would end on July 22, 2019…In response, NIPNLG filed a lawsuit, Saget v. Trump, with the law firms of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli and Pratt P.A, (Kurzban), and Mayer Brown. The suit was brought on behalf of a dozen plaintiffs, including Patrick Saget, Haïti Liberté, the largest weekly Haitian newspaper in this hemisphere, and Family Action Network Movement, Inc. (FANM). Trials these days are rare in cases like this: they are usually decided on motions. This makes the decision even more notable, suggesting that the court may truly wish to hold the government accountable. A trial will begin promptly on January 7, 2019.

Read more about what this means in this message from Steve Forester of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

 

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Local Action on Immigration Policy

Immigration policy is the responsibility of the federal government. However, in the deeply polarized times we live in, achieving comprehensive immigration reform at the national level has not been achieved. Indeed, the last comprehensive legislation passed was in 1996 – and it was not good legislation, paving the way for mandatory detention.

While there have been a number of bills introduced into congress with the aim of overhauling the immigration system, the good bills have languished in committee, and the more problematic compromise bills have failed to gain enough support on the House or Senate floors.

In the absence of a reform bill, and amidst the ongoing war against immigrants being waged by the Trump administration, local action is an important way to push back against the system, while building networks and relationships that can become the foundation for a political alliance to ultimately transform the system. This past weekend the Quixote Center presented some ideas about local action in a workshop at Call to Action in San Antonio. While not comprehensive, we did offer a few examples of ways people can get engaged in local action to support immigrant communities. We offer a summary of these ideas below:

Rapid Response Networks

If you have a flexible schedule and are able to mobilize at a moment’s notice, volunteering with a rapid response network is worth considering. Response networks take on a variety of roles, the most common being mobilizing to be a witness to (and/or at times to disrupt) ICE activity in your community.

How to get started!

Labor Notes has a brief guide to creating a rapid response network here: http://www.labornotes.org/2018/08/building-rapid-response-network-defend-immigrant-workers

Before launching the process to create a rapid response network, first see what might already exist in your community. This is not an exhaustive list, but a few places to check:

National: United We Dream, Here to Stay Network https://actionnetwork.org/forms/immigrants-are-heretostay/

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (list of hotlines): https://www.nnirr.org/drupal/sites/default/files/immigration_hotlines_pdf.pdf

 

Visitation Programs

Being held in detention is very isolating experience. People often have no idea how long they will be held, and can be moved at any moment. Visiting people in detention can make a huge difference for those being held.

Creating a visitation program requires meeting ICE guidelines and the specific rules of the facilities. They do not make it easy!

The best place to start is Freedom for Immigrants, which provides detailed information on how to create a program, and will help guide local groups in creating a visitation program.

To see a list of visitation programs around the country and learn more: https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/visitation-network/

 

Local Policy Actions

There are a variety of ways in which people have organized campaigns to resist immigration enforcement measures at the local level. Until there is a comprehensive reform at the federal level, such efforts create important means of support, and help to build a broader network of public officials working in support of more humane policies. We offer a few examples below.

SAFE Cities Network

The Vera Institute for Justice coordinates the SAFE Cities Network, which provides legal assistance to immigrants who are facing deportation. SAFE Cities Network is a year old, and includes 12 cities and 8 counties in the United States. Through the first year, 38% of the people who received legal assistance were able to stay in the U.S., compared to the national average of 3% of people who face these proceedings without assistance. For more information about the SAFE Cities Network: https://www.vera.org/spotlights/safe-expansion-and-success

Freedom Cities

Trump has made Sanctuary Cities a target, by threatening to suspend federal funding in some cases. In addition, some states like Texas have passed state laws that attempt to obligate cities to enforce immigration laws. In response, new strategies have evolved for localities to push back. In Austin, for example, the City Council passed a resolution that police must inform people that they have the right to refuse to answer questions related to immigration status.

Background: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/crackdown-sanctuary-cities-gives-birth-freedom-cities-n909606

287(g) Campaigns

287(g) refers to a section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act that allows the federal government to enter into formal agreements with localities in order to, in essence, deputize local law enforcement to take on the roles normally reserved for ICE. Over the past several years, there have been numerous campaigns by local activists for their communities to withdraw from 287(g) agreements.

Background (map and explanation): https://www.ilrc.org/national-map-287g-agreements

 

Shutdown ICE

There are a variety of actions community groups can take to challenge ICE, raise awareness about conditions in detention facilities located in their area, or work to block the opening of new detention facilities. There is no specific model to follow here, but we provide a few examples of campaigns.

Using inspections to end abusive detention

This is an initiative coordinated by Detention Watch Network. They have a detailed guide on how to use ICE contracts and inspections to build campaigns to challenge detention policies. The guide includes creation of visitation programs and ways to use the media and other grassroots actions to build local campaigns. You can connect to the toolkit and other information here:  https://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/issues/detention-oversight

Occupy ICE

A grassroots movement which has adopted some of the strategies of the Occupy Wall Street movement to protest ICE activity in cities around the country. The first encampment was in Portland in June this year. In Philadelphia protests led to the city canceling its arrest database sharing agreement with ICE. There have been Occupy ICE actions in many cities, mostly during the peak of the family separation crisis. Follow at hashtag #OccupyICE. Website: https://occupyice.org/

Background article (Guardian): https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/06/occupy-ice-movement-new-york-louisville-portland

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Daily Dispatch 11/16/18


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November 16, 2018


Top Story – Caravan News

As reported earlier, the first of the recent refugee caravans from Central America arrived at the U.S./Mexico border this week. The group of LGBTQ refugees had left the main group following harassment. The San Antonio, Texas-based organization RAICES raised funds for buses from Mexico City to the border. Sandra Cuffe, writing for Al Jazeera, provides some excellent context. [Note: Sandra Cuffe has been covering the refugee caravan for Al Jazeera since the beginning. You can review her articles here.]

 

More Good news

An appellate court in Brooklyn ruled Wednesday that local police officers in New York state can’t hold immigrants in custody beyond their release date solely to turn them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement without a judicial warrant.

 

A network of cities that provide legal services to immigrants facing deportation is expanding. The Vera Institute for Justice launched the Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network, which currently includes 12 cities and 8 counties around the country.

Denver is the latest city to extend this program.

More background on the SAFE Cities Network.

 

TPS for Haitians will be extended as federal courts agree to let lawsuit move forward.

 

Elizabeth Warren is among a group of Senators who sent letters demanding details from private detention center operators CoreCivic and the GEO Group, as well as their auditors, The Nakamoto Group. 

 

Mother reunited with child five months after separation at the border. More evidence that having legal representation makes all of the difference!

 

 

 

 


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Daily Dispatch 11/15/18


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November 15, 2018


Top story

According to leaked documents received by The Nation, the Army will provide Customs and Border Protection officers with anti-riot weapons and protective equipment, further blurring the line between military and civilian law enforcement. Full story.

It’s hard to keep up with the firings and new faces…

Ronald D. Vitiello, Trump’s pick to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement is testifying before the Senate this week as part of his confirmation process. Vitiello is currently the acting director.

This is what oppression looks like…

Trump’s rhetoric is driving immigrants away from accessing programs like food stamps, even though no formal changes to eligibility have been made. Immigrants, and we are speaking of documented immigrants, are now forgoing assistance they otherwise qualify for out of fear they could be deported, or later denied citizenship. Vox does a deep dive into the changes and new report documenting the pattern.

And…

It seems that every federal agency is being enrolled into Trump’s war on immigrants, now the Department of Interior: “Immigration arrests at U.S. national parks and other federal lands spiked dramatically this year under President Donald Trump, with some 4,010 immigration-related arrests alone since May compared to only 126 arrests in 2016, according to the Interior Department”

GEO Group – the Profits of Pain

From early October, but still worth a read. Department of Homeland Security inspects a GEO Group run detention facility. “DHS inspectors reviewed all requests for dental fillings since 2014 and found that although the jail’s two dentists identified cavities and placed detainees on a waiting list for fillings, no detainees received them. “One detainee we interviewed reported having multiple teeth fall out while waiting more than 2 years for cavities to be filled,” the report said.

Geo Group remains the largest private company in the detention business.

Some good news!

On the good news front, the city of Denver is extending a program to provide legal defense to immigrants facing deportation.

 


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Daily Dispatch 11/14/18


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November 14, 2018


Top Stories:

New study points to rapid decline in food stamps due to Trump’s “public charge” rule. Boston Medical Center’s Children’s HealthWatch observed a 10% drop in enrollments in the first half of 2018.

United States only UN nation to oppose UNHCR resolution on refugees. From US economic ambassador: “We regret that the resolution before us today contains elements that run directly counter to my government’s sovereign interests.”

Contracts:

Big Brother lands in a traffic light near you, as ICE contracts with Houston’s Cowboy Streetlight Concealments to install hidden surveillance cameras in several Texas cities.

ICE posts solicitation for 1,200 “Stack-A-Bunk” plastic bunk beds for its Florence, El Paso, Port Isabel, Miami, and Batavia detention centers. Mother Jones describes the units as “human-sized pieces of plastic that allow jailers to do the bare minimum needed to comply with the law,” characterizing it as akin to “sleeping on Tupperware.”

These Guys:

Former ICE boss, Thomas Homan, rumored to be next DHS Secretary once Nielsen is out, eliciting this response from one former ICE official:

Scott Lloyd, head of the Office of Refugees and Resettlement at HHS (the agency that lost track of 3,000+ immigrant children over the past year), is preparing an anti-abortion book – ‘cuz if anyone knows how to make decisions about other people’s kids, it’s this guy:


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Daily Dispatch 11/13/18


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November 13, 2018


Top Stories:

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen likely out before the end of the week. This is looking all the more likely now, with the news that her WH defender, Chief of Staff Kelly, will also be on the chopping block.

Iowa gem, Steve King, calls immigrants “dirt” on tape. <sarcasm>Keepin’ it classy as always, Steve.</sarcasm>

ICE awards $200 million contract to MVM Inc., a private prison company that held separated children overnight in vacant office buildings.

Updates:

An update on separated children from Jacob Soboroff, who has been covering this story for months:

Remember that caravan – the one that caused a “national emergency” until, for some reason, election day? Well, here’s an update from Newsweek: “LGBT members of a caravan of Central American migrants heading toward the U.S. border appear to have reached the California border after leaving the main group behind over alleged discrimination from other migrants” … read more.

And here’s a bonus video for making it this far – Colbert on Fox’s vanishing caravan coverage:

Other Worthy Reads:

From Sojourners: “An Open Letter to White Evangelicals” (dated December 2018, so it comes to us from the future).

From the New York Times: “The Very Busy Life of an Immigrants’ Rights Priest in 2018.”

From Politico: “Trump preps for border wall fight with Dems”

 


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Daily Dispatch 11/12/18


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November 12, 2018


In the Swamp:

What to expect between now and January:

Lame duck negotiations about border wall funding are unlikely to produce the results Trump wants. Republican Majority leaders in the House and Senate are $20 billion apart on how much funding they believe is realistic and Democrats aren’t likely to go for any of it, even when tied to a DACA fix.

Related: White House schism over immigration complicates Trump’s race to implement new immigration policies before Ryan hands the gavel to Pelosi.

Related: An explanation of Trump’s proposed “asylum ban,” which “raises the risk of summary deportation for thousands of asylum seekers.”

Two nominations moving ahead today as the Senate Homeland Security Committee holds hearings on Ronald D. Vitiello to direct ICE and later votes on Steven Dillingham for Director of the Census.

ICE confirms reporting to Congress a record high average daily population of 44,631 detainees.

In Case You Missed It:

From Cosmopolitan: “All 19 Black Women Running for Judge in a Texas Race Won Tuesday Night”

In the Courts:

ACLU files in federal court to halt the “asylum ban.” (Read the complaint here.)

Greyhound Lines becomes the target of lawsuits for allowing ICE agents to board buses and demand identification from passengers.

An interview with the lead attorney challenging USCIS’s new policy memo against international students.

Former CBP official pleads guilty to pretending to be a lawyer in order defraud immigrants.

On the Ground:

Seven-minute showers, MREs, no combat pay, electricity restrictions, and the approaching holidays are just some of the factors impacting morale among troops deployed to the US-Mexico border.

In the Streets:

Small Michigan caravan sets out from Ann Arbor, heading to El Paso to call attention to Trump’s policies.

Finally, a message from former Ambassador Mike McFaul:

 

 


 


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TPS to be Extended for Haiti

The follow is a message from Steven Forester, the Immigration Policy Coordinator for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. He is reporting some great news which we share in full below.

Due to legal developments in the Ramos court case related to TPS, explained below:

1)  TPS for Haitians will virtually certainly NOT end on July 22, 2019; the government in early March will automatically extend it to approximately January 1, 2020, and quite possibly will do so for another nine months beyond that date, to September, 2020;
 
2)  Haitians with TPS who didn’t re-register for it in 2017 or 2018 out of fear, confusion, or another good reason can and should seek to reregister now; the gov’t has agreed to give such applications “presumptive weight” as being filed late for good cause—meaning they should be granted and then entitled to the TPS extensions described above/below;
 
More Details:
 
As you know, DHS’s November 2017 decision ending Haiti TPS, with an 18-month grace period set to expire on July 22, 2019, is being challenged in four federal district court suits, including the Ramos litigation in San Francisco. On October 3, Judge Chen in Ramos issued a preliminary injunction (“PI”) in the plaintiffs’ favor, suspending as unconstitutional, while the injunction is in effect, implementation of DHS’s TPS termination decisions for Haiti, El Salvador, Sudan, and Nicaragua.
 
The U.S. government (“USG”) has appealed Judge Chen’s order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals but has agreed, while the court’s order is in effect, to certain important measures. These measures are reflected in an October 31 Federal Register Notice (“FRN”) (“Continuation of Documentation for Beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status Designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador”) or in a declaration filed in Ramos by a high-ranking USG official.
 
These important protective measures include the following:
  1. Automatic 9 month extensions, starting in April 2019, unless there is a loss at a court of appeals: “DHS will issue another Federal Register Notice approximately 30 days before April 2, 2019, that will extend TPS for an additional nine months from April 2, 2019, for all affected beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador.  DHS will continue to issue Federal Register Notices at nine-month intervals so long as the preliminary injunction remains in place and will continue its commitment to [an] orderly transition period, as described above.” (There’s no way the Ninth Circuit will decide by early March, much less the Supreme Court.  So the early March additional Federal Register Notice referenced above will issue.)

 

  1. TPS work and legal status will be automatic for those registered—no need to pay for employment authorization cards or further registration:Under the agreement, for as long as the district court’s order is in place, people with TPS who have re-registered previously – or who re-register late – will not need to register again or apply for a new EAD. They can rely on their existing (to-be-expired) EAD or TPS approval notice, as well as the Federal Register Notice, as valid authorization to work or as proof of legal status in the United States. They do not need to pay any further money to the US government, and should not need to pay for additional legal assistance either.
 
  1. Re-registration possible—and likely guaranteed—for people who did not re-register during the Trump Administration: Crucially, Haitians with TPS who didn’t reregister in 2017 or 2018 due to fear or other good reason can successfully do so now!  If they now reregister for TPS late for good cause, the USG will give their applications “presumptive weight” as being valid!  This means that any Haitian TPS recipient who failed to reregister in 2017 or 2018 should be successful in doing so now — late — if they explain that they didn’t reregister on time due to fear, confusion, or other good reason.  (This is extremely important for example for the estimated nearly 16,000 Haitians with TPS who let their TPS status lapse early this year by not trying to reregister!)
 
  1. No new terminations for these countries for now: The USG will not try to write new TPS termination notices for Haiti or the three other nations while the court’s order remains valid.
 
  1. At least 6 months additional protection even if there is a loss at a higher court: “In the event the preliminary injunction is reversed and that reversal becomes final, DHS will allow for an orderly transition period,” which effectively amounts to about six months from the date of any such hypothetical future final, non-appealable order. This means that – if the district court’s order is overturned on appeal (at the court of appeals or the Supreme Court), the earliest that TPS holders from these countries could lose their legal status is about 6 months after the appeals court’s decision.
 
Further info will be shared on these legal developments in a webinar and/or otherwise, and prompt congressional action for a longer-term solution remains essential.  Meanwhile, please help disseminate the crucially important information explained above!
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Daily Dispatch 11/8/18


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November 8, 2018


A brief one today, as Quixote Center is spread around the country…

Top Stories:

Sessions disliked by religious leaders across the board.

After all the heated rhetoric over immigration in the 2018 campaigns, Mitch McConnell responds to question about whether Congress will tackle immigration with a resounding “who knows.”

Trump expected to sign executive order further limiting asylum before leaving for Paris on Friday.

The day after this week’s elections, the Department of Defense announces that it has ditched the title “Operation Faithful Patriot” that it had assigned to the movement of troops to the US-Mexico border. Asked for comment, the Pentagon’s spokesperson said, “in order to provide more context to the mission on the Southwest border, we are simply describing the mission in everyday terms, support to Customs and Border Protection.”

 


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Daily Dispatch 11/7/18


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November 7, 2018


Breaking

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, we hardly knew ye.

Jeff Sessions is out as Trump announces new Acting AG via tweet. Nomination for new AG will come soon, but in the meantime all eyes are on Matthew G. Whitaker, Sessions’s Chief of Staff at DOJ. Stay tuned…

Top Stories: (until 19 minutes ago)

As we now know, Trump’s intentional escalation of anti-immigrant rhetoric yielded mixed results at the polls. On the federal level, the Senate remains red while the House swings blue.

What a Democratic House of Representatives means for Trump’s immigration policies.

Motel 6 pays $7.6 million to avoid class-action lawsuit after regularly providing guest lists to ICE.

Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law files suit against Jeff Session on behalf of Jenny Lisette Flores, et al, in an effort to prevent the administration from ending Flores Agreement protections.

Other News:

Wheaton College professor urges white evangelicals to resist the anti-immigration fervor that has led them to reject Christian values.

Seattle-King County Immigration Legal Defense Network, launched by the city of Seattle and surrounding King County in response to Trump’s policies, has provided legal representation to 699 in the year since its inception.

From Foreign Affairs: “The Migration Disconnect: Why Central Americans Will Keep on Heading to the United States.”

 

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Contact Us

  • Quixote Center
    7307 Baltimore Ave.
    Ste 214
    College Park, MD 20740
  • Office: 301-699-0042
    Email: info@quixote.org

Direction to office:

For driving: From Baltimore Ave (Route 1) towards University of Maryland, turn right onto Hartwick Rd. Turn immediate right in the office complex.

Look for building 7307. We are located on the 2nd floor.

For public transportation: We are located near the College Park metro station (green line)