As Americans seek to help, and connect with, the massive humanitarian crisis in Haiti, a new fact sheet has been posted online promising to provide seemingly helpful “information about the Haitian community in the United States.”
The reality is the document was released by a Washington policy organization using the intense interest in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake to advance a specific political agenda.
Americans are responding in an overwhelming fashion to the devastation in and around Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, caused by a magnitude 7.0 tremblor that has claimed the lives of 200,000 or more Haitians, and left millions of others injured, destitute, out on the streets — or worse.
While more than 80 million reportedly tuned into a televised fundraiser on 33 networks, raising at least $57 million for relief, the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington has been using the crisis as a means to limit immigration to the United States.
The fact sheet released by the center begins with basic Census data about the increase in the number of Haitians in the United States, and provides what appears to be a simple breakdown on the states with the highest concentrations of Haitians living in the United States.
But by the fourth bullet point, the document reads, “Our best estimate is that there are 75,000 to 125,000 illegal Haitian immigrants in the country. In 2000, the INS estimated there were 76,000 illegal Haitian immigrants.”
The next bullet, which focuses on the number of Haitians who could remain in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted by the Obama administration following the disaster, emphasizes that of those seeking TPS protection, “most are illegal immigrants.”
The fact sheet is attributed to Steven Camarota, director of research at the center. The center’s avowed mission is a “low-immigration vision which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted.”
The document goes on to claim that, of households headed by Haitian immigrants, 46 percent use “at least one major welfare program,” while for households headed by “native-born Americans” it is 20 percent.
Another recent post on the organization’s website, attributed to Executive Director Mark Krikorian is titled, simply, “Help Haitians — In Haiti.”
Krikorian’s center is not alone in politicizing what has largely been a united global relief effort, as right-wing talker Rush Limbaugh reportedly says, “Besides, we’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”
Other U.S. leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have come out to emphasize the positive contributions of Haitians in the United States.
“Wherever Haitian immigrants have settled, they have thrived and they have contributed to the welfare and the well-being of their new home country, never forgetting their Haitian legacy,” Pelosi says in remarks from the House floor. “We know about the artistic genius and entrepreneurial spirit of the Haitian people. Wyclef Jean, are you listening? And so many others. They will succeed if they are only given the opportunity.”
Wyclef Jean is a successful Haitian-American recording artist.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and politics for more than a decade.