Monday, May 21, 2007

another non-event

From the NY Times last week:

[A]n overloaded Haitian sloop capsized off the coast of Turks and Caicos recently. As many as 90 migrants may have died in that episode, which passengers on the vessel blamed on the aggressive tactics of the local police.

. . .

With a police boat on the scene in rough waters, the Haitian boat went over on its side. Screams filled the air and bodies hit the water. In all, 61 dead Haitians were plucked from the sea, some of them with shark bites. Twenty or so others were never found.

“The closest thing I could compare it to was Katrina, with that many people floating in the water,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Arko, a Coast Guard helicopter pilot who responded to the scene and who had done search-and-rescue work over post-hurricane New Orleans.

. . .

But Haitians have it harder than others. They are not allowed to stay if they reach American soil, like the Cubans. They are not granted temporary protected status while their countries recover from war and natural disasters, like those who have fled Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Haitians have the bad luck to be located at the conjunction of two of the most odious American (or simply human) traditions: racism and nativism. Hence a Cuban has merely to land on our shores, introduce himself to a law enforcement officer, stay for a year and a day, and he will be handed a green card with a smile. That’s the God’s honest truth. Haitians have been coming here since the sixties, even earlier than many Central Americans, but Haitians have never been granted Temporary Protected Status. 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 barely caused a ripple in the American consciousness, though they died on our doorstep.

It’s a bum deal.

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