President Bush will finally leave the White House next week, which means the United States now stands a chance at reversing our reputation as douchebags of the universe. Before departing office, however, Dubya decided he would give the good people of South Florida a little farewell gift: another bad decision.
Despite the two back-to-back hurricanes that smacked Haiti this past summer, he denied the unfortunate islanders temporary protected status last week. "It's brainless and racist," says Steven Forester of the advocacy group Haitian Women of Miami. "It's crazy to send these people home at a time when the place is devastated."
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The U.S. has never granted Haitians TPS, which permits short-term residency to nationals from countries that are enduring political or environmental turbulence. While President Bush has continued to rebuff Haitians, the administration renewed TPS in 2002 for Nicaraguan and Honduran immigrants owing to Hurricane Mitch in 1998. At this point, Haiti is in much worse shape than Central Americans were at the time. Mudslides still cover entire towns on the island. Houses are flooded. People are starving. We're talking about more than three times the damage left by Hurricane Katrina.
North Miami immigration lawyer Candace Jean is representing several Haitian families with deportation orders, some of whom might not survive if sent back. She told the story of one 24-year-old mother who was raped when she got to Florida in 2005 and now has a U.S.-born child from the assault. Her deportation order could land her in Haiti in just a few weeks. Says Jean: "What is she gonna do? Take her son back to Haiti and feed him mud?"