Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Haitian Undocumented

Haiti is the poorest country of the Americas and has suffered the most grief over its history than any other country of the Americas. Their suffering continues to this day as the recent capsizing of boatload of undocumented refugees and the death of nine illustrates. Fear of deportation keeps many Haitians in the same shadows as other undocumented immigrants. But in a sense their plight is even more desperate. Deportation to Haiti is to return to the extreme poverty, threats of natural disasters, and high levels of violence. Many immigrant advocates are urging the US to extend to Haitians "temporary protected status" that had been given in the past to refugees of civil war and natural disasters who could not return safely to their countries. The Obama administration has reiterate US policy to deport the undocumented and 30,000 cases are at that stage. But the recent re-evaluation of ICE raids has turned the focus on searching out "the criminal element". Critics of temporary protected status object that it would only encourage more reckless attempts to enter the country. But these groups speak less out of compassion and more out of their cross-the-board hostility to all increse in immigration. (See New York Times article.)

One in five children in the US is Hispanic and by 2025 it will be one in three. Already most of those children are born in the USA. A few trace their heritage all the way back to the Hispanos of New Mexico and Colorado, the Californios and the Tejanos that were here before the Americanos. But most are children of 20th and 21st century immigrants. There are about 11% born outside the country and brought here as children, and a goodly number were born to the children of early 20th century immigrants. But now a majority, according to a Pew Hispanic Center study of census data, are second generation born to immigrants since the 1980s. Of these 40% have at least one undocumented parent. This is quite a change from 1980 when six of every ten Hispanic children was from a third or higher generation. Projecting into the future, as the second generation has its own children, the 2025 estimate will reflect more third or higher generation children. While currently the rate of second and third generation children in poverty is about the same, the second generation is more vulnerable. They have less command of English and do poorly at school and tend to be caught up more in the gang culture. But they also are more likely to live with both parents in the household. (See Washington Post or Pew Hisanic Center article.)

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