Haitians rushed to file their passport applications with the Immigration and Emigration Service after the announcement of the "CHNV Parole Program", (Photo: Haïti Liberté)
Washington's announcement that 30,000 new visas would be made available to Haitians raised more questions than it answered. The visas are only good for two years, and the policy of deportations under the Trump era Title 42 rule will continue. Immigration from Haiti is the end result of U.S. interference in the affairs of that country. Policy that respects Haitian sovereignty is the answer, not immigration confusion.
This article was originally published in Haïti Liberté.
'Well-fed man says: Mango is rotten," says a Haitian proverb. "The hungry man answers, 'Let me see.'"
That wisdom came to mind this week as Washington dangled a small carrot while grabbing a much larger stick in an effort to stem the growing tide of Haitians fleeing poverty and violence in their country.
Thousands of Haitians began calling friends and family members in the United States, hoping to find a sponsor for the new "CHNV Parole Program," which would allow them to live and work in the United States for just two years.
On January 5, the Biden administration announced that the U.S. would expand the parole program (previously offered only to migrants from Venezuela) to 30,000 aspirants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti. Anyone who entered Mexico, Panama, or the United States illegally after January 9, 2023 is not eligible.
At the same time, the Biden administration has doubled down on its commitment to continue enforcing Title 42, a CDC-mandated anti-COVID policy that it invokes to deport and block tens of thousands of asylum seekers each year on the grounds that they pose a "public health concern" risk. On December 27, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow the Trump-era law to remain in effect.
Title 42 expulsions will now increase, with Mexico agreeing to accept expelled Haitians, as well as Cubans and Nicaraguans. Previously, the Mexican government had only accepted the return of its own nationals and migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Now, the U.S. will begin deporting up to 30,000 migrants monthly from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua to Mexico, while allowing 30,000 of those countries to apply to live and work in the U.S. for two years. Asylum claims are currently the only exception to Title 42.
Under the parole program, migrants must have a legal sponsor in the U.S. and undergo a vigorous "background check." It also requires migrants to schedule an hour to enter the U.S. via a legal port of entry through the CBP One app. A tidal wave of candidates kept the app and website connected almost perpetually down.
Sponsors can be those who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), parole, deferred action, asylum or refugee status, permanent residency, or U.S. citizenship, and they can be any relative, friend, pastor or group of people, such as several relatives or friends or colleagues, or a religious or other business or organization that can prove that they can financially support beneficiaries during the period. of two years' parole. People who have been granted asylum can be sponsors, but asylum seekers with ongoing cases cannot. Individuals cannot be sponsors if they have not yet obtained the initial TPS.
The new policy is an ingenious creation of the "laboratory," as President Jean-Bertrand Aristide used to call Washington's neo-colony management complex.
The CHNV parole program is directed against Latin American countries that pose the greatest frontline threats to the American empire: Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua... and Haiti.
For the first three, led by anti-imperialist governments, it is a way to undermine their revolutions by siphoning off their brightest minds and greatest talents.
In the case of Haiti, populated by anti-imperialist masses who carry Russian and Chinese flags in their demonstrations to show their contempt for Washington, it is a way of bleeding the revolutionary leaders (just like the Integrated Program for the Strengthening of Democracy – PIRED – during the coup of 1991-1994), serve as an excuse for the brutal and illegal interception of "boat people" on the high seas (like the 83 captured off Florida). this week), continues the daily air transport of undocumented Haitians already in the United States to Haiti, and undermine the arguments of lawyers and advocates calling for a humane immigration policy.
It is truly a double-edged sword, serving both the attack on three vanguard anti-imperialist governments and defense against the human tidal wave created by US neoliberal policies and political engineering in Haiti.
The carrot that Washington has dangled to Haitians is very puny. There is no shortage of questions. Are parolees sent back to Haiti after two years? Are they eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)? For the residence? For political asylum? How long do I have to wait for an answer after applying? How long before traveling to the United States? Can I apply more than once with different sponsors? What are the parameters and depth of background checks? Does this imply political scrutiny? What are the obligations of the sponsors of parolees during and especially after two years?
The fiery Father Reginald Jean-Mary of Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church in Miami summed it up in a moving sermon on January 8:
"Today, they are insulting us. They offer a visa that drives all Haitians, all families, crazy. It is a ploy. Tell the president (Biden) that I said, "That's wrong." This is not correct. That is not how you treat a nation. We need security in our country. We need peace. We do not need this visa. We don't even know how many people will receive this visa. All friends and families are divided. If you don't apply for a friend, they'll hate you. How many calls have you received at home? How many friends have called you saying "Apply for me please". Everyone in Haiti has in their head that they are now coming to the United States. And we know it's a lie. Today, everyone is going crazy. A bunch of charlatans on Facebook say "come to me, come to me, I'll apply for you". You will pay $500. If he gets 1,000 people at $500, he makes half a million dollars with poor people like him. All our children suck us dry. This is not what we need from the United States, just to prevent us from sailing to Key West, they are trying to calm us down by saying they will give us a visa. All Haitians run after Santa Claus, run after visas... That's not what we need... How many people will get this visa? Stop being a fool in this world."
Haiti, indeed, has dramatic problems but has overcome them before. The "CHNV Parole Program" is an attempt to distance Haitians from revolutionary ideas and efforts with false promises. Many will resist Washington's siren song, but many will also succumb and take the bait. As the great twentieth-century socialist author H.G. Wells wrote, "Hunger makes man foolish."
Kim Ives is a journalist, radio commentator, and documentary filmmaker.