[Sayma-Discuss] Causes of Immigration, Role of AFSC, other

Elizabeth Eames roeblingelizabeth at msn.com
Tue Mar 3 12:45:31 EST 2009

Dear Friends, 

My heart is greatly uplifted by your timely attention to this concern. 

Thank you for your Minute with the hope that more careful attention will be paid in the future.

To this end, I would ask that Friends, individually and collectively, turn their attention to the 30,000 Haitians who are now awaiting final deportation from the United States. 

On this particular issue, I believe the immediate leadership and influence of Friends could be extremely important. 

Time is of the essence in this matter so I ask for Friends' full Light.

President Bush granted Haitians awaiting deportation in the United States "Temporary Protected Status" last year following the four ravaging storms. That order has now expired. 

President Preval has asked that the order be extended since his nation has not recovered from the storms, Gonaives being only 1/3 dug out from the mud, and faces a constant threat of insecurity.

As many as half of these deportees have criminal records. The United Nations recently issued a warning of the appearance of a new gang of kidnappers in Port au Prince who speak neither French nor Kreyol.

According to a report issued by the Famine Early Warning System 
"an estimated three million Haitians are currently classified as food insecure, representing nearly a third of the country’s population....Despite the recession in the United States, the Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH) reported that monthly flows of migrant remittances to family members back home in Haiti during the first quarter of the fiscal year (October‐December 2008) had
increased by more than US$ 20 million from the same quarter of the previous year. According to the BRH, the seasonal surge in remittances in December of last year and January of this year was also larger than in the previous year."

In Light of the understanding that Haiti is the only nation in the hemisphere currently under the protection of United Nations peacekeeping forces, is the poorest nation in the hemisphere, is the second oldest independent nation in the hemisphere, has been occupied twice by the United States, is completely dependent on foreign aid, is only just emerging from a dictatorship supported by the United States and coups and counter coups also attributed in part to the intervention and influence of the United States, and suffers from extreme environmental degredation, the Government of Haiti is justified in asking for continuing temporary protected status of these refugees who are currently living in the United States.

I request that all Members, Meetings, and collected associated organizations of the Religious Society Friends 
Stand with the President of Haiti in asking the President of the United States to extend Temporary Protected Status to the 30,000 Haitians now in the final stages of deportation from the United States until such time as President Obama himself has had an opportunity to visit Haiti and examine the situation on the ground for himself.

Thank you for your consideration.

Elizabeth Eames Roebling
Asheville (NC) Friends Meeting

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


From: Geeta McGahey

Dear Friends,  

I have recently returned from the AFSC-SERO EC meeting in Atlanta. 
We read these comments by Elizabeth and discussed our response to Haiti
for about an hour.  The National AFSC does not do large scale relief
in areas where we don't have or expect to have ongoing presence. 
Although there is an office in Haiti there is not program work
there.  In the SE we have one person in Miami who is working with
Haitian immigrants, trying to build bridges to the future in the torn
diaspora community and also working on deportation issues.  Our
office's new Assistant director Alice  Lovelace
<alovelace at mindspring.com> has a long-standing personal concern
about Haiti, and how the situation there is hidden from view.  We
saw the hygiene and infant kits as inadequate and inappropriate to the
devastation of the hurricane.  

We realized that if we couldn't send water at least we could provide
iodine tablets and other essentials

We are hopeful that since schools are opening education kits may be a
good way to connect US children and their parents to the reality in

We approved the following minutes for the South-East Region (SERO):

The EC asks staff to incorporate support for Haitian human rights in
all appropriate work as the new program plans are prepared. 

The EC asks the Friends Humanitarian Response Program to assess needs
with local people before soliciting and sending kits, particularly
internationally, and to focus on the most pressing needs that can be met
with kits. 

We thank Elizabeth for bringing this to our attention. 

I am excited about the work of AFSC in our region and the efforts to
collaborate with other groups so as to be a leavening. 

Geeta Jyothi, AFSC-SERO Rep

At 11:30 AM 1/27/2009 -0500, Elizabeth Eames wrote:


As an additional item for Meetings to consider, I wonder a bit about
these "policy" statements which come from the "Board of
AFSC" and if Friends are relying too heavily on the sense of a few
others, avoiding thereby the hard work of forming their own independent

I have had only a few dealings with the Service Committee which is
evidently now spreading itself out as far as Brazil, now in English and
Spanish and evidently in Portugese. My most recent contact with them was
over the issue of Haiti, after the recent storms, and what Friends might
do to be of service. 

I had had correspondence with the Service Committee about Haiti before,
asking them about their program there, wondering if I might contact their
operation there. Through that, I learned that AFSC has a closed office
and a pick-up truck in Haiti, with no employees. 

The Service Committee was contacted by myself and another Haiti activist
while massive relief efforts were being mounted, to see if they would
join in helping the Haitian Diaspora in sending supplies. 

What we found was that AFSC had already decided to send their standard
"kit" - the soap, the toothbrush, the comb (note: not a pic
which would be of use to African hair), some baby clothes, - all
purchased retail, all shipped through High Point. We (a New England
resident active with the large Haitian Diaspora groups) were stunned by
the lack of responsiveness, the inappropriateness of the selected items,
the lack of interest in the request from the Haitian Diaspora. 

For myself, I was dismayed to later learn that my own home Meeting in
Asheville, had followed AFSC and gone out and spent their money on these
kits, before they consulted with me, who has been living here in Santo
Dominigo, working on the Haitian border as a journalist, and regularly
monitoring Haitian affairs. As a long time peace activist, I was saddened
that my Meeting had overlooked that they had someone on the ground, even
though one member had recieved copies of my correspondance with the
Service Committee. I pointed out to the Meeting that had they contacted
me, I could have contacted the director of the hospital in Gonaives,
whose email I have, and found out which medicines or supplies they
needed, purchased them, and taken them over by bus. Since we are neither
a very large or wealthy Meeting, I had not asked them to do anything. But
evidently someone in the Meeting had taken on the concern of Haiti, and
responded to the Service Committee's call for 'relief kits".

How odd it must look to people who are stranded in mud, living without
water, to receive these little white, middle class kits of personal
hygiene. Must keep our teeth cleaned and our faces washed and our hair
neat, no matter what our circumstances.

So I question these policy pronouncements coming from the Service
Committee which carries this Quaker name, and to whom our Meetings bow in
obeisance. What is their authority to speak so forcefully on policy?
Through what process? Are they running ahead of their leading?


May the Light Guide Us.




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