Ten Things the US Can and Should Do for Haiti

One. Allow all Haitians in the US to work. The number one source of money for poor people in Haiti is the money sent from family and workers in the US back home. Haitians will continue to help themselves if given a chance. Haitians in the US will continue to help when the world community moves on to other problems.

Two. Do not allow US military in Haiti to point their guns at Haitians. Hungry Haitians are not the enemy. Decisions have already been made which will militarize the humanitarian relief – but do not allow the victims to be cast as criminals. Do not demonize the people.

Three. Give Haiti grants as help, not loans. Haiti does not need any more debt. Make sure that the relief given helps Haiti rebuild its public sector so the country can provide its own citizens with basic public services.

Four. Prioritize humanitarian aid to help women, children and the elderly. They are always moved to the back of the line. If they are moved to the back of the line, start at the back.

Five. President Obama can enact Temporary Protected Status for Haitians with the stroke of a pen. Do it. The US has already done it for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan and Somalia. President Obama should do it on Martin Luther King Day.

Six. Respect Human Rights from Day One. The UN has enacted Guiding Principles for Internally Displaced People. Make them required reading for every official and non-governmental person and organization. Non governmental organizations like charities and international aid groups are extremely powerful in Haiti – they too must respect the human dignity and human rights of all people.

Seven. Apologize to the Haitian people everywhere for Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh.

Eight. Release all Haitians in US jails who are not accused of any crimes. Thirty thousand people are facing deportations. No one will be deported to Haiti for years to come. Release them on Martin Luther King day.

Nine. Require that all the non-governmental organizations which raise money in the US be transparent about what they raise, where the money goes, and insist that they be legally accountable to the people of Haiti.

Ten. Treat all Haitians as we ourselves would want to be treated.

Bill Quigley is a professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans and Associate Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be reached at: quigley77@gmail.com. Read other articles by Bill.

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  1. Danny Ray said on January 15th, 2010 at 12:24pm #

    Mr. Quigley, I whole heartedly agree with nine of the ten points you brought out. Anyone here in the united states should be allowed to work you are right that no one will be repatriated anytime soon so issue all in custody green cards and let them help rebuild their country.

    Making all the aid money grants instead of loans is a wonderful idea.

    I agree that Pat R. is a shame and a disgrace, I am ashamed to tell people that man is a Christian like myself. As for Rush . I was listening to him that day and he never said do not give to Haiti, He did say do not give unless you know where the money is going and do not give thru the government. I agree with that sentiment, if it goes thru the government eighty cents on the dollar will be sucked into administrative cost and will never see Haiti. Think about it. These same people skimmed 1.7 billion out of 3 billion from the cash for clunkers program. Moreover, I am not saying the money was stolen it was just sucked into that vast pool of quicksand inside the beltway.

    The point I do disagree with is number two, don’t let the military point guns at the Haitians. As a military member and having been assigned to several of these humanitarian missions I can firmly say that First off we operate under a very strict set of rules known as R.O.E. or Rules Of Engagement. Often the only thing that keeps things from breaking completely down is the presents of force. Often people who are on the edge as these poor souls are form mobs which refuse to let us to provide relief as needed. Everyone wants to be fed or treated first.

    I have copied a link to FM 100-23 The field manual regarding Rules of engagement.
    Please read this before you condemn the US military,

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/100-23/fm100_10.htm