Target: Barack Obama, President of the United States
Goal: Reverse the decision to deport Haitians back to their country, which was recently devastated by Hurricane Matthew.
In September, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would resume regular deportations of Haitians from the United States. Secretary Jeh Johnson declared at the time that “the situation in Haiti has improved sufficiently,” which is to say the country had recovered enough from the 2010 earthquake for people to return. This claim, which was shaky to begin with, came two weeks before Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, killing hundreds and displacing thousands more.
Following the earthquake six years ago, the U.S. suspended deportations and also provided temporary protected status to many Haitians. Many more arrived too late to receive this status, however, and they are now at risk of deportation. Additionally, hundreds of Haitians are waiting with uncertainty at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Even before Hurricane Matthew hit, it would be a far reach to say that Haiti had fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake. 60,000 people were still living in earthquake displacement camps, and many more were still recovering from a cholera epidemic caused by U.N. peacekeepers. Nicole Phillips, an attorney with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, stated: “six years was not enough time for a country struggling with political instability and poverty to recover from the worst natural disaster in modern times.” Now that the Hurricane has wreaked even further havoc, deporting Haitians simply seems cruel.
If we were to take a closer look at Hurricane Matthew, we would also see an interesting twist to this story. Matthew is one of the strongest storms ever recorded at this time of year. Tropical storms are supposed to be more of a concern in the hot summer months, especially August and September, when ocean temperatures peak. Sea surface temperatures are currently above average for October, making Matthew an out-of-season monster – a product of climate change.
This means that if Haitians are deported, they will directly face the deadly consequences of climate change. A cruel irony, considering that small, developing countries like Haiti contribute very little to the causes of climate change. The United States on the other hand, a large, powerful, industrialized country, contributes immensely. Tell Obama this is poignantly unfair. We cannot deport Haitian people into a hurricane disaster zone. We cannot force others to suffer the effects of climate change, when we will not take responsibility for the cause.
Dear President Obama,
I urge you to reconsider your decision to deport Haitian people from the United States. At the time of this decision, it was a dubious claim that Haiti had fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake. Now that Hurricane Matthew has stricken the country, it is flat out absurd. We cannot deport people to a country with a ravaged infrastructure, where hundreds have been killed and thousands displaced in the past several days.
Additionally, I would like to draw your attention to the seasonal peculiarity of Hurricane Matthew. Sea surface temperatures typically have declined by this time of year, making tropical storms less of a threat. Thanks to climate change, we are seeing above average surface temperatures this October, and one of the most powerful autumn storms ever recorded. As I’m sure you know, the United States is one of the leading contributors to climate change, while a small, impoverished country like Haiti contributes next to nothing. Their suffering in the wake of Hurricane Matthew is indirectly our fault, and we should consider it our responsibility.
Please do the right thing and stop your plan to deport Haitians. Instead, you should fully extend protected status to all Haitians currently in the U.S., and allow refugees to enter.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Hector Retamal