Operation Pierre Pan
January 17, 2010 11:14 PM   Subscribe

Thousands of Haitian orphans may be resettled in the United States, and Miami, Florida is ready to receive them. The county is prepared to house them in temporary shelters (with the goal of moving them eventually to foster homes), the local Haitian community has expressed its support, and the local public schools are uniquely prepared to teach Haitian Creole. Fingers crossed that the money for this program comes through.
posted by ms.codex (9 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is a thin FPP about a potential, possible plan. And Haiti is already being discussed. -- vacapinta

I appreciate the sentiments behind this, but I really worry that this is *not* the best thing for these kids right now. There's no guarantee these kids are actually orphans, and removing them from their home country makes it that much harder for their families to find them. I worry that this will create more orphans than it will help.

This quote from the article is worrisome:
"It's a way that we can give back," said Eloisa Echazabal, who was 13 when she and her younger sister were sent to Florida by their parents in 1961, before they moved on to an orphanage in New York.
So this teenager who had living parents was sent away to live in an orphanage. That seems really wrong to me.

Maybe I just am not fully understanding the devastation in Haiti right now, but I would much rather see these resources going to Haiti, rather than removing children from their nation and culture.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:43 PM on January 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

Meanwhile, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suggests Haitians living illegally in the US might see the earthquake as an 'opportunity': "Illegal immigrants from Haiti have no reason to fear deportation, but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers, and many of them could be a big help to their fellow Haitians."
posted by grounded at 12:18 AM on January 18, 2010

I appreciate the sentiments behind this, but I really worry that this is *not* the best thing for these kids right now. There's no guarantee these kids are actually orphans, and removing them from their home country makes it that much harder for their families to find them. I worry that this will create more orphans than it will help.

Wow. You're jumping to a whole lot of assumptions here. It's not as if they're going to walk up and down streets, picking up any children who aren't accompanied by someone and sending them to Florida. The opposite problem is much more likely - that orphans won't be identified quickly and will suffer in various ways because of it. It shouldn't astonish anyone to know that Haiti had a surplus of orphans before this disaster, and that despite the involvement of many non-Haitian churches and charities, maintaining conditions beneficial for these kids is *always* a struggle. I can't even imagine what it's like now, and what it will be like for a long time to come.

It's pretty safe to assume that these kids will be identified and records maintained in case anyone does turn up. It's also pretty safe to assume that the kids sent to Florida first will be the ones wherein their situations are the best-verified.

I'll also say this. I was lucky to be old enough when I became a war orphan (in Bosnia) that I could fend for myself more or less. But many were the times before their deaths that my parents talked about how they wished they'd sent me away earlier, when it was still possible, just to get me out of the war zone and to somewhere safe and stable. They were racked with guilt about it, bless their hearts, and I was petulant and nasty whenever the subject came up, blaming them for their lack of foresight and dreaming of being in French discothèques or American shopping malls I would have been in if only they'd been smarter, instead of dodging rocket-launched grenades and washing clothes in the river. Now that I'm older I have a sense of my parents' regret that I just couldn't perceive then. They wanted to hold on to me; their regret was that this "selfish" desire of theirs might lead to my death. And they cursed themselves for it, even on the day they died.

You'll notice - despite your characterization of her comments as "worrisome" that Eloisa Echazabal has not even the slightest stirring of regret or lament. I don't know if she became an "orphan" because her parents later died while still in Cuba or simply by virtue of their being parentless in America (it's clear to me that their parents did to them what mine wanted to have done for me - shipped them out while there was still time.) I've read lmany books of history where parents turned their children over to strangers - Jews in Germany and Poland during the Second World War, Russians shipping their kids out during the 1917 Revolution, and so on. I had friends who were "caught" outside Bosnia when the war began and were safe and confortable as their parents suffered, starved, froze and died. These situations all seem as mournful as can be, and I can't imagine the psychological damage they cause . . . but I've never heard of anyone regretting it. And these are the situations where there clearly were parents.

I can't believe that these kids aren't about a hundred times better off in America than they would be in Haiti, and I don't have any doubt that any theoretical still-existing parent wouldn't be grateful for this chance. Plenty of Haitians risk their lives to come to America - even in the best of times - and while it's always a shame to lose something of one's culture, most Haitians would rightfully see this program as a more-than-fair exchange.

I can't help but feel for those unlucky parents who knew they weren't going to survive and despaired, in their final moments, over what would become of their poor kids. I can only imagine their delight - wherever they are - at this hopeful step.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:01 AM on January 18, 2010 [19 favorites]

There's some talk about using Guantanomo Bay as a home for refugees. I really like the idea of seeing headlines like "U.S. to send orphans to Guantanomo".
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:23 AM on January 18, 2010

The Senegalese offer of land to Haitians who want to make a new start there seemed impressive, but haven't seen any logistic details.
posted by Abiezer at 4:00 AM on January 18, 2010

"This sounds to me like open borders advocates exercising the Rahm Emanuel axiom: 'Never let a crisis go to waste,'" Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said in an e-mail message to ABCNews.

posted by angrycat at 4:33 AM on January 18, 2010

Why privilege children? Probably about 60 percent of the population of Haiti would be better off, and have better opportunities in life if they lived in the US. The truly charitable thing to do would be to simply open immigration from Haiti to the US -- permanently. We could do a "40 acres and a mule" thing, and give them some of our abundant land in the Midwest, or rust belt inner cities, provided they farm it. We could make their assimilation into the US a project of the faithful, enlisting Christian churches and their congregations to put their money where their mouths are, and feed hungry, clothe the naked, and instead of giving the one coat asked, give two...
posted by Faze at 4:50 AM on January 18, 2010

While we're on the subject: Fear of the poor is hampering Haiti rescue. It reminds me of the exaggerated accounts of carnage in the Superdome after Katrina.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:11 AM on January 18, 2010

posted by thoughtslut at 5:22 AM on January 18, 2010

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