It’s Not Who You Know… It’s Who You Are.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door”
-from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus (on pedestal of statue)

So… last night 21 Cubans wash ashore in Miami at the Rickenbacker Causeway…. right after Haitian immigrants ran ashore a few weeks ago in Hollywood… and guess what?

The Cubans win freedom and the Haitians win a fast boat ride back to Haiti.

I’m sure your saying to yourself that there must be some valid reasons as to why that might be. I mean… after all… I know we’re having all these immigration problems… and I know we’re talking about actually trying to pass laws that would put up a fence or a concrete wall or some sorta Star Wars force field across the border of Mexico and the U.S. to keep out the migrants over there.

Yes… I’m sure your thinking… Jesus, man… I mean… 9/11 dude… need we say more? Immigrants = terrorists (Timothy McVie aside)… we can’t keep illegal immigrants that “wash” ashore in this country… there are proper channels to come to our country.

So why is it that under U.S. policy, Cubans who set a single foot on dry land are home free while Haitians are detained in prison like conditions and then sent right back… one foot on soil or not?

Hmmmm…. why?

I mean… c’mon… it’s not like we, as a country, would have policies based on color of skin… right? There has to be something more to it… like…. Cuba being in the middle of some serious civil unrest.

Geeze… the Cuban people must be getting hunted down by death squads… villages must be getting burned down to ashes and political upheaval has GOT to be happening every other day and meanwhile, well, meanwhile Haiti kinda resembles the Bahamas… right?

Right?

Huh?

Well you, my friends and family, would be sadly mistaken.

Haiti is in the middle of imploding. The government is unstable at best… people wind up missing.. out of nowhere… and not political candidates or lawyers and doctors… we’re talking normal people… like you and I.

Poof.

The U.N. has a peacekeeping mission out there but their getting the shit kicked out of them (oh… by the way… the U.S. has under 1% worth of troops for the U.N. and that started way before Iraq folks, so don’t go using that as an excuse)…

Cuba on the other hand is relatively calm. Does it suck for the people there? Yes. Is it a sad, sad country ruled by a dictator? Yes. Is that dictator ready to die out forever like most communist countries have? Yes. Are the people under a large looming cloud of misery? Yes they are… but people are not being massacred in their villages, man.

The country is just not in the middle of a civil fucking war… at least not yet.

All points regarding immigration are valid… conservative and liberal alike. I understand that this is a major problem. I know that we are not the same country as we were when we had Ellis Island and a fleet of European ships coming here to drop off more immigrants. I also know that with terrorism a very real risk here on American soil , most people are freaked out… and rightfully so.

But as a human being… with a heart and soul… can you find any reason for sending back Haitians that flee their own bodily injuries and death rather than fleeing from economic instability as do the Cuban refugees?

To hell with being part of a partisan line on this… I can not believe that we, especially here in Miami, can stand back and let this happen. The Cuban community should know better than this… they should be side by side with Haitian activists… protesting for change in U.S. policy towards Haitian refugees.

I think I know why this is happening though… and I think you do too.

People don’t seem to like Haitians very much… you can insert your stereotype in here because there seems to be a hell of a lot of ’em… I’ve heard some… even from my own family. We here in Miami, for the most part, have gotten used to the Cuban community and culture being embedded in our cities … even to the point that when Miami was ridiculed by a U.S. Representative we nearly sent a militia out to Colorado… the guy was vilified in the media.

And I fully believe that the villification was proper and just.

Considering that we have Cuban Representatives and commissioners and mayors and business owners here… I think somehow we believe that the Cuban immigrants just came here and that was that… like immediately upon setting foot here on American soil ,we had Latin radio and T.V. and all Latin streets with all Latin signs and services embedded in certain parts of Miami.

Look… the Cuban community has been here for a mighty long time. They have had years and years of opportunity to grow and strengthen themselves as a cultural force in Miami as well as across this nation. They should be very proud of what they have accomplished as immigrants to this country. It is a very special feeling to see that a group of oppressed people in their own homeland can flourish by coming here… something the Statue Of Liberty promises.

Haitians are relatively new to this gig. Haitians come from an extremely different and hostile environment. They have no schooling to speak of… or at least the bare minimum when they do. Food and water shortages… medicine inadequacies… diseases and, as stated before, at least a murder a day that must touch every family on such a small island.

Let’s not forget that they even drive on the other side of the road in Haiti… I mention this because I’ve heard the rumblings in town about Haitian drivers and… to you who say this… let me say to you… have you ever tried driving in Europe on the wrong side of the road… wtih those fucking roundabouts?

Well… it sucks… and it’s hard… and you drive 5 miles an hour cause your totally freaked out.

So, is this obvious double standard because their black? Well, listening to most people in America… skin color has nothing to do with anything anymore. I suppose all the hoopla…. good and bad…. for Senator Obama isn’t really happening because of skin color… it must be about his record as a politician from Illinois, right?

Maybe it’s because they don’t have a great grasp on communicating with the English language as do most of the Cuban community?

Maybe it’s the fact that their a bit abrasive and defensive at times? I suppose none of us would be a little shell shocked if our cities were under gorilla warfare 24 hours a day, huh?

In my opinion, I think it has a little to do with both… as well as the Cuban political community having more pull in Washington than the Haitian people do. I think the general assumption is because the Latin community has such tremendous voting power here in Florida and, along with that, the Washington pull… that maybe the Haitians aren’t as hungry for success as their Cuban counterparts.

Well, listen to Haitian radio and I’m sure you’ll make that point devoid of any truth whatsoever.

The plight of the Haitian refugees and the U.S. policy toward them, on a much smaller scale but just as dangerous and inhuman, is reminiscent of another group of refugees that had “visa” and “asylum” troubles here in America.

Jewish refugees were turned away by the boat loads before the U.S. entered into World War II… they were sent back to dig their own graves for the Nazis.

In an article written about Jewish oppression throughout the years, James F. Harrington wrote that ” The one common denominator that the governments of Nazi Germany, Great Britain and The United States shared before World War II, was their mutual dislike of the Jewish people. Nothing can substantiate this more, than the callousness exhibited by the United States government in refusing to accept many Jewish refugee’s who had fled Nazi dominated Europe, weathered the ruff Atlantic seas, just to be turned away at the ports of New York and Boston prior to this country declaring war against Hitler’s Germany.”

Are we just as ignorant and selfish and prejiduce as we were then?

Sing your song loud and clear today kids… sing it with all your moral values in tact… and know… that at the Krome Detention Center there are Haitians scared to death, praying that maybe… just maybe… America will change their minds

“I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free, And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me, And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God Bless the U.S.A.”
– Lee Greenwood, Proud To Be An American

2 Comments so far

  1. Arnie (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 9:37 am

    Here is an interesting interview with someone who has gone on a hungerstrike in support of those Haitian refugees in March.
    http://uvu.channel2.org/PublicSite/video.aspx?id=362&skin=2
    You get a bigger picture of their issues, even in regard to the Cuban policy, when you have more than a sound bite and a talking head on the local news.


  2. Jaime (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

    Even in Emma Lazarus’ day, a lot of native-born Americans didn’t like immigrants. They were viewed as driving up crime while driving down wages. Immigrants were also “not American enough.” Also, oddly enough, a lot of Americans around the early 20th century did believe that immigrants were political radicals (Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, and the like) who could turn to terrorism. There was actually an incident on Wall St. in 1920 where a bomb killed 30-something people and wounded hundreds more, and widespread belief held it was done by an immigrant (they never caught the perpetrator). There were also other scattered bombings in different US cities carried out by immigrants (European immigrants). I just write this to show that the more times change, the more they stay the same.

    The situation with Cuban immigrants being allowed to stay and eventually get citizenship is definitely an anomaly. No other nationality automatically gets that. It’s a product of a different era. Calling for a remedy to the discrimination between countries is more likely to cause Cubans to lose that right rather than other nationalities to gain it, however.



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