What's up Little Haiti

DHS chief Kelly asks for criminal histories of thousands of Haitians seeking to stay in US

Secretary John Kelly asked Department of Homeland Security staff for the criminal history of thousands of Haitians living in the United States on protected immigration status as he mulls the decision of whether to extend the program set to expire in July.

The Trump administration must soon decide whether to renew "Temporary Protected Status" for some 50,000 Haitians currently living in the U.S. In 2010, the Obama administration granted the status to Haiti after a massive earthquake that devastated the island-nation, killing an estimated 220,000 and displacing 1.5 million.

The 18-month program has been extended three times since.

DHS staff said Kelly's requests for criminal data and public benefit usage by Haitian protected status recipients will not be used to make a decision request.

However, the move has raised concerns among immigration advocates who worry about how this information will be used given the administration's more hardline positions on immigration.

"Secretary Kelly hasn't made a decision on (Temporary Protected Status) for Haiti," Joanne Talbot from DHS's Office of Public Affairs told NBC News. "The Secretary's decision will be based on a thorough assessment of the conditions in the country; separately, he has asked the staff for detailed information to increase his understanding of how the program operates. The two actions are separate and distinct."

Federal law regarding Temporary Protected Status does not specify a recipient's behavior as criteria for extending the program and immigration experts say those who receive it are heavily screened before they are granted the protected status. They are also not eligible for welfare benefits.

"The idea that you would deny protection for 50,000 people because there are a few bad apples who wouldn't be eligible for Temporary Protected Status in the first place, makes little to no sense," Tom Jawetz, the vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research organization told NBC News.

Paul Altidor, ambassador of Haiti to the U.S. said his government is in communication with DHS.

"We have as a government requested that Temporary Protected Status be extended for at least 12 to 18 months from our standpoint," Altidor said. "Not because simply Haiti needs it, but we feel that it would be in the interest of both countries as Haiti is putting in motion its development plan based on the catastrophe of the Earthquake in 2010 and a set of other issues that came up along the way that has slowed down our reconstruction process."

Haiti elected a new president in January following a 14-month election process which was further prolonged by a brutal Hurricane in October.

Haitian-born New York City Council member Mathieu Eugene said Temporary Protected Status recipients who have come to his office are looking for an extension on the program, "because they are people who are working hard every single today to provide for themselves and their families and consider it the fabric of the United States."

The Associated Press was the first to report the DHS' request for criminal data of the Haitian community based on inter-agency emails they obtained. The report found that career officials appeared to struggle to find the type of information Kelly was requesting

"We should also find any reports of criminal activity by any individual with (Temporary Protected Status). Even though it's only a snapshot and not representative of the entire situation, we need more than 'Haiti is really poor' stories," wrote Kathy Nuebel-Kovarick, who began her new role April 2 heading immigration policy at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency within DHS.

Previously, Kovarick constructed immigration policy under Sen. Chuck Grassley — working closely with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' staff when he was a senator.

Ira Mehlman, media director at the restrictionist Federation for American Immigration Reform, said Temporary Protected Status originally had some merit, but he questions what the program has become.

"You know the T in TPS stands for temporary. But you know people just keep extending their stay here in the United States long past any reasonable time frame after the triggering event," Mehlman said.

The director of USCIS James McCament recommended in April that Sec. Kelly not fully extend Temporary Protected Status status for Haitians because he said conditions have improved significantly. That recommendation has received its share of criticism from lawmakers and advocacy groups.

McCament's agency sent a vastly different report about the conditions in Haiti in December when they said housing shortages, a cholera epidemic, limited medical care, economic concerns, food insecurity and security threats still remained a problem in the country. Haiti was rocked by Hurricane Matthew in October, just weeks after Trump appealed to voters in Miami.

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry recommended Temporary Protected Status be extended.

Leonardo DiCaprio Joins Sean Penn at Haiti Takes Root Benefit Dinner

5/6/2017 by Sara Kitnick

Naomi Campbell, Ellie Goulding and Andy Cohen were also on hand to share their support for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization at the annual gala.

On Jan. 12, 2010, the lives of thousands of Haitians were forever changed in 53 seconds by a devastating earthquake, leaving many homeless and in need of medical care. It was during the immediate aftermath of this grave natural disaster that Sean Penn founded J/P Haitian Relief Organization as an emergency response to save lives. And with each passing year, millions of dollars are raised to help to rebuild the country.

On Friday night, the organization held its annual gala, an event that usually takes place in Los Angeles, at Sotheby's in New York City, co-hosted by Bryan Lourd and David Geffen. Many of Penn's friends were in attendance, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Campbell, Ellie Goulding, Andy Cohen and Donna Karan, who came to show their support for the organization's newest initiative, Haiti Takes Root, which is helping with reforestation following Hurricane Matthew.

"Haiti was devastated by Hurricane Matthew," Penn said as he explained the new initiative, "and I watched from another country as news organizations said no one is doing anything for these people."

Haiti Takes Root will for the first time ever be able to reverse hundreds of years of deforestation, thanks to the generous donations of its supporters, many of whom were in attendance on Friday night. And it was with the help of DiCaprio, who, after making an incognito entrance, made himself very valuable in raising funds. The actor and activist added himself to one of the auction items in order to up the ante from 0,000 to 5,000. A dinner experience with Penn and former President Bill Clinton was bid on for 0k, but Leo said aloud he'd also join the dinner if someone would make it 5k, which they did.

It was a night to remember, with acoustic performances by Damien Rice and Andra Day, who, in the spirit of the evening, performed her hit "Rise Up," bringing everyone to their feet for a standing ovation.

To close out the event, Penn took to the stage to share a few more words: "Haiti could be an example of not how bad a country could be, but how it could rise up from its current situation and achieve something better. And if it can happen in Haiti, it can happen in the rest of the world, and that becomes an example to the rest of the world on how hope and renewal can be found in the face of death and devastation."

Death of the mother of Dany Laferrière

Dany Laferrière’s first stop when he traveled in Haiti was always at his mother's place in Delmas. Marie Nelson Laferrière died on Thursday, May 11th, at the age 90. Less popular than her son, Marie carried the same scars as Dany: the dictatorship, an absent husband and father.

She looked on with pride and serenity at her son’s literary successes. President François Hollande invited him to France, it was a long journey, and a violent reminder of her husband’s exile. She preferred to stay here, knowing that all of the paths in the world could only take Dany to Delmas, to her love and affection.

Before passing away, Marie Nelson Laferrière saw her son Dany become a literary genius in Canada and Haiti, as well as get inducted as a member of the French Academy – the official authority on the French language.

A Painting by Basquiat is estimated at 60 million dollars

Jean Michel Basquiat is about to enter the pantheon of the contemporary artists. One of his paintings "could become a new record for the American painter," according to Sotheby’s which hopes it will reach the 60 million dollar figure.

Fourteen works of the painter born in Brooklyn in 1960, and who died from a drug overdose in SoHo in 1988, will be presented at a spring auction in New York, where a pallet of potential buyers support the art market.

Basquiat is to become the dominant figure at the auction, which will take place this week, according to L'Express magazine.

In May, 2016, another large, untitled painting by Basquiat reached .2 million at Christie’s, dethroning "Dustheads," which earned .8 million dollars in 2013, according to L’Express.

"Basquiat, is New York. It is the 1980’s," summarizes Grégoire Billault, who is in charge of contemporary art at Sotheby’s in New York.

"It was the place we wanted to go. It was where things were happening. Jean-Michel is really the fuel of that," he said.

Another work by the painter, who was of Haitian origin on his father’s side and Puerto Rican on his mother’s side, "La Hara," should reach a high price at Christie’s. He estimates it will reach between 22 and 28 million dollars.

Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s wish to surpass the 1.1 billion dollar bar during the week of the 15th to the 19th, according to estimates from both houses.

Coast Guard offloads ton of pot in Fort Lauderdale after confiscation south of Haiti



More than a ton of marijuana will not make it to the streets of South Florida after the Coast Guard confiscated the drugs in the waters south of Haiti last month.

On Tuesday, the drugs, worth about [* 10].4 million, were offloaded from the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca in Fort Lauderdale and transferred to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the Coast Guard, the 2,600 pounds of marijuana were interdicted by the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence in April about 80 miles south of Haiti.

IFC Helps Haitian Businesses Strengthen their Corporate Governance

The FINANCIAL -- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, together with the World Bank and the Central Bank of Haiti are hosting a three-day corporate governance workshop in Port au Prince this week to help Haitian state-owned enterprises, family businesses and the media develop sound corporate governance practices. 

“IFC’s global corporate governance team has a long track record of helping companies of all types and sizes build the conditions necessary for long-term success,” said Sylvain Kakou, IFC Representative in Haiti. “In Haiti, good corporate governance can make a big difference in helping companies grow and attract new investors. This in turn helps strengthen the country’s economy.” 

Corporate governance is defined as the structures and processes by which companies are directed and controlled. During more than two decades, IFC has worked to improve the governance of a wide range of companies. Our experience has shown that good corporate governance practices help businesses operate more efficiently, better manage risks, and attract investment on better terms, according to IFC.

The objective of this week’s workshop is to raise awareness about the governance of family-owned businesses and state-owned enterprises. IFC and World Bank specialists will address challenges faced by these firms such as planning for succession, raising capital, ensuring accountability, and structuring the board of directors. There will also be a session to help journalists build their capacity to report on corporate governance matters. 

“Haiti’s businesses, large and small, are key to boosting growth, innovation, trade, and efficiency. Helping these businesses thrive is essential,” said Jean Baden Dubois, Governor of Haiti’s Central Bank. “Corporate governance is an important tool in supporting Haitian businesses to attract needed investment, grow and partner with international firms.” 

Well-run companies are better able to respond to competitive challenges and legitimate stakeholder concerns. Family owned businesses can also see important benefits. Approximately 95% of the world's family businesses do not successfully reach the third generation of ownership; the long-term sustainability of such firms is therefore a central issue. Improving corporate governance practices, such as adopting more formalized approaches to management, succession guidelines and changes in board structure, can help family businesses increase their long-term viability. 

IFC’s portfolio in Haiti amounts to 8 million, including million mobilized from partner institutions. IFC operates in sectors such as hospitality, energy, access to finance, and manufacturing. Our strategy focuses on creating jobs, access to basic infrastructure, and income opportunities for Haitians.