By Alicia Augustin
Alicia Augustin is a first-year student at the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts and Sciences who plans to study Political Science and Urban Education.
“Let Haitians Decide Their Own Future,” reads the sign held by the young Haitian protester in the photo above. This picture was taken at a protest on October 9, 2022 outside of the United States White House in which protesters demanded that the U.S. government stop supporting the illegitimate government of Haiti . It is clear from this protest that some Haitian citizens and supporters do not appreciate the efforts by the U.S. to help Haiti because they believe that the negatives outweigh the positives.
United States foreign policy has historically involved peacekeeping or other types of intervention efforts. The American government is often involved in the governmental affairs of sovereign nations, targeting countries that are facing large scale issues that the U.S. government can help "fix." Haiti has suffered with many issues in the past, and current leadership faces monumental challenges, none of which are being adequately addressed. More recently, Haiti is facing numerous humanitarian problems including increased gang presence, high rates of killing and kidnappings, all under an unelected government . Although these problems are not new to Haiti, efforts to address these issues haven’t been met with much success. Large efforts to “improve” the conditions of Haiti for its citizens has been taken on by the U.S. government several times. Most of the time, these failed efforts involve the U.S. invading Haiti to “restore order” .
There are many instances of American intervention in Haiti. In September 1994 the United States military invaded Haiti, forcing the Haitian military Junta to surrender . Following this surrender, the U.S. continued to intervene in Haiti’s affairs by training the Haitian National Police forces, which proved to be ineffective because of deep corruption throughout the police force that came to light soon thereafter.. The implication is that when the U.S. government repeatedly attempts to “fix” Haiti, more damage is done. Invasion is the primary solution deployed by the United States government in response to such large-scale problems, but the results leave much to be desired. It is conceivable that there are some factions within the United States that view these interventions as a step towards annexing Haiti, with each failed "fix" becoming support for future annexation.
Annexation is the process of acquiring territory, typically through invasive efforts. While it would take a lot for the U.S. to successfully take over Haiti, the subtle efforts put forward by the U.S. military should not go unnoticed. Seemingly, the U.S. is “setting the stage” for annexation by depicting Haiti as a country that needs the U.S. Undoubtedly, foreign assistance could help improve the country but only in instances where this assistance is purely meant to benefit the people of that country. The U.S. government has demonstrated its neglect for the true welfare of Haitian citizens. This neglect has been recently emphasized by the extension of Temporary Protected Status.
On December 5, 2022, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Maryokas, announced the 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti . The date originally set to expire February 4, 2023 has now changed to August 3, 2023 granting Haitian nationals living in the U.S. a grace period of security and protection . However, this status is not applicable to Haitians attempting to enter the U.S. after November 6, 2022 which is a questionable aspect of TPS .
Secretary Maryokas’ rationale behind pushing for the extension of TPS for Haiti is rooted in claims to assist Haiti due to the humanitarian crisis that is highly concerning . He states, “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime – aggravated by environmental disaster – compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today” . If this is the motivation behind extending TPS, why wouldn’t it apply to Haitians who are looking for refuge in the U.S. after the cutoff date that makes them ineligible? If the primary challenges that Haitian citizens face are centered in Haiti, it would make more sense for the U.S. to provide assistance to citizens who are truly endangered if the U.S. must intervene.
While the extension of TPS for Haiti seems like a benevolent move at first glance, it’s at best a mixed bag for Haitians.When considered within the context of the U.S.’ history with Haiti, it seems unlikely that the U.S. has no ulterior motives. The U.S. government has historically and consistently disregarded the human rights and necessities of Haitian citizens and TPS would not even aid citizens in Haiti who are seeking refuge from the conditions at home.
 Ciorciari, John D. “Intervening in Haiti, Again.” Foreign Policy, October 21, 2022. https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/10/21/haiti-foreign-intervention-united-nations-peacekeepin/.
 Cameron, Chris. “As U.S. Navigates Crisis in Haiti, a Bloody History Looms Large.” The New York Times. The New York Times, December 19, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/19/us/politics/us-haiti-intervention.html.
 “Secretary Mayorkas Extends and Redesignates Temporary Protected Status for Haiti for 18 Months.” Secretary Mayorkas Extends and Redesignates Temporary Protected Status for Haiti for 18 Months | Homeland Security. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2022/12/05/secretary-mayorkas-extends-and-redesignates-temporary-protected-status-haiti-18.
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