more bad news from Caribbean waters

| | Comments (1)
CNN reports on another Haitian migration tragedy (via Immigration Prof Blog): 

The bodies of 20 migrants have been recovered from the sea near the Bahamas after their boat apparently capsized, the U.S. Coast Guard said Monday as it searched for survivors.

The bodies of 19 Haitians and one Honduran were recovered and three survivors -- two Haitians and one Honduran -- have been found, said Barry Bena, a Coast Guard spokesman in Miami. Authorities are interviewing the survivors to determine what happened.

The search-and-rescue mission began Sunday after fishermen heard people screaming in the water.

The accident happened about 15 miles (25 kilometers) northwest of Nassau, Bahamas, according to the Coast Guard. A cutter, helicopter and a jet from the Coast Guard and two Bahamas military vessels continued searching the area Monday, Bena said.

Every year, thousands of Haitians try to leave the Western Hemisphere's poorest country aboard rickety, overloaded boats for other islands or the United States.

Soaring food prices have pushed many into abject poverty and triggered riots earlier this month in Haiti, but this has not yet translated into a spike in the number of migrants.

Last year a migrant boat capsized near the Turks and Caicos islands, pitching Haitians into shark-infested waters. At least 61 people died.

As I remarked at the time of the earlier tragedy: 

While Haiti suffers through some of the most sustained savagery this side of Iraq, Nicaraguans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans continue to renew their TPS status as their countries move towards the end of a second decade of peace. Haiti was an American ally during the Cold War, but Haitians had the misfortune to be (a) ruled by run-of-the-mill capitalist dictators and (b) black.

Those 90 drowned Haitians [the 61 number quoted above doesn't account for the bodies that were never found] barely caused a ripple in the American consciousness, though they died on our doorstep.

A little backstory is in order. 

Waves of refugees have periodically washed onto U.S. shores since the fall of Baby Doc Duvalier in 1986. The U.S. has a long history of involvement in Haitian politics, and invaded the country a couple times in the 20th Century. Some less savory characters in Haitian politics have found their way onto the CIA's payroll.

But since Haiti is poor and black, and since Haitian communities in the U.S. have not managed to accumulate political clout the way some other immigrant communities have, Haitian refugees and asylum-seekers are routinely deported back into the maelstrom to fend for themselves.

. . .

The U.S. is famous for stirring up trouble in its backyard and then ignoring the human consequences, but it has perfected this technique in Haiti.

We have continued--even institutionalized--this national policy of indifference to Haiti, as you can see when you consider that:

[s]ome judges in New York and Miami denied 99% of Haitian applications for asylum. If you are Haitian and have the misfortune to have one of these judges assigned to your case, you might as well pack your bags and skip the proceedings, because they are sending you back regardless of the facts of your case.

This phenomenon persists even though country conditions in Haiti are the worst in the Western Hemisphere and should lead to a higher grant rate than of most other countries. 

digg | | delish


kyledeb said:

I'm glad you wrote about this yave. It's always important to mark these horrors as they happen, because they are too often forgotten. Thousands of migrants die only to seek a better life every year but they are barely a blip on the U.S. citizen conscious. Nameless and voiceless they die in unmarked graves.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on April 22, 2008 7:44 AM.

The Big Lie: Immigrants Are Criminals: Pro-Migrant Sanctuarysphere was the previous entry in this blog.

Earth Day - For a Better Environment: Pro-Migrant Sanctuarysphere is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.