Haiti - A breath of FREE air, for you

by Julia Gomez

*vulgar language is used in this article to fully convey the story

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, is the most famous quote associated with the Statue of Liberty.  An excerpt from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus, it is also a mantra this melting pot, United States of America, highly boasts and prides itself on.  However, some may not believe it if they heard the current US President speak.

According to the Migration Policy Institute the number of Haitian Immigrants living in the United States of America reached around 676,000 in 2015.  The number increased by almost 10,000 from the population recorded in 2010.  The increase in due to the devastating earthquake that occurred in 2010. It destroyed homes, communities, and families, and drastically disrupted the lives of many.

Soon after the earthquake, a Cholera outbreak spread throughout Haiti. It took thousands of lives and is still plaguing many to this day.  “Experts determined that the source of the disease was a U.N. peacekeeping camp.”  Wrote Camila Domonoske, a reporter for NPR. In 2016, U.N. admitted it played a role in the outbreak. 

A Miami New Times’ reporter, Jerry Iannelli, wrote “…24,000 Haitian nationals live between Miami and Palm Beach under temporary protected status (TPS), which is given to immigrants from nations devastated by political turmoil or natural disasters.” Haiti became victim to both.  The Haitian government is accused of being corrupt, planning million dollar weddings while citizens living wage is less than $2 a day.  Impoverished citizens may resort to giving their children to extended family member or complete strangers where they become Restaveksor “A child staying with another person or extended family member who is treated as property and exploited for labor.” (Restavek Freedom) Children and teenagers basically become domestic servants; cleaning and cooking for families and receiving no pay for the work they do.  1 in 15 children in Haiti are leading the life of Restaveks

Corruption, disease, and devastation due to the earthquake remain a massive issue, causing havoc and disrupting lives.  Despite all this, in November 2017the Trump administration announced it wants to deport all 60,000 Haitians protected by TPS back to Haiti by July 2019.  Two months later, on January 11, 2018, a democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, and a republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham, accused trump of calling El Salvador, Haiti, and other African Nations “Shit Hole Countries.”  The alleged obscenity was uttered when Pres. Donald Trump and other politicians were discussing lifting restraints on immigration from the countries mentioned above.  Durbin and Graham reported Trump later recommended bringing in more people from countries like Norway instead.  Trump denies all allegations.

South Florida law makers are outraged and want an answer. Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo tweeted “Under no circumstances is it acceptable to degrade, denigrate, or dehumanize #TPS immigrants.  The White House must immediately explain the situation and leave no doubt regarding what was said and in what context.” Exactly 10 minutes after Curbelo’s tweet went out, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tweeted: The president calling #Haiti a sh*th@le country’ ignores the contributions thousands of Haitians have made to our #SoFla community and nation.  Language like that shouldn't be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn't be heard in the White House.”

Haitian immigrants make up 3.6% of South Florida’s populations. Restaurants, like Yo’s Restaurant & Bakery in Miramar, are scattered everywhere.  Yo’s is small, but welcoming.  On Monday, patrons were greeted by a kind, smiling face as they ordered traditional Haitian Cuisine like Cabrit (goat) with a side of Riz au Champrinon (rice and beans.)  TheHaitian culture stands out, most prominently, in the colorful streets of Little Haiti, a South Florida Neighborhood.

"The word shit hole is culturally divisive and turns the countries it's aimed towards into an 'other.'  Using this sort of vulgarity effectively ostracizes and openly ridicules a nation and its people.”  Stated Samuel Martin, an Anthropology graduate student studying at the University of Central Florida

Insulting their motherland could cause Haitians and other immigrants to feel excluded.”  Martin continues: “Like they don’t belong in a country built by people seeking asylum from a tyrannical government or poverty.  A country built by people searching for a better life”

Special thanks to Samuel Martin and Yo’s Restaurant Bakery.

 "Give me your tired, your poor, 

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

- Emma Lazarus, New York City (1849 - 1887)




http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/trump-ending- tps-deporting- 24000-haitian-

miamians-by- 2019-9846560

https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/haitian-immigrants- united-states

https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/haitian-immigrants- united-


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/what-makes- a-country- great-meet- haitis-


https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/18/490468640/u- n-admits- role-in-

haiti-cholera- outbreak-that- has-killed- thousands





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