One week after an earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital, the Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN) are trying to pull off a very delicate public relations maneuver: stating their sympathy for the Haitian people, while also communicating in no uncertain terms that Haitians are not welcome here, no matter how accommodating our empty classrooms and unoccupied condos may seem.
Granted, the U.S. will have to figure some humane and practical solution for dealing with displaced Haitians who will be even more desperate to get to America now that their homeland is in ruins. But under the circumstances, it seems rather callous for anti-immigration groups to be outraged about the temporary protection status granted to illegal Haitian immigrants by the Obama administration.
That policy merely gives those immigrants an 18-month stay from deportation, and however frustrating it may be that those deportations aren't strictly, quickly enforced, the alternative is to send those immigrants back to a nation that is far more impoverished and dangerous than the one they left.
To FLIMEN's credit, the group doesn't oppose the temporary protection status, per se -- as more extreme anti-immigrant groups do. Rather, FLIMEN is seizing this moment to remind immigration officials about the need to improve enforcement. It's endorsing this author's message about the dangers of giving displaced Haitians hope about starting a new, permanent life in America. And it's arguing for the policy that resources ought to be applied toward rebuilding Haiti, not toward inviting Haitians here.
It all sounds pretty reasonable, at least until you get to the part about how Haitian immigrants would "exacerbate" America's economic woes. Even if that's true, our bummer of an economy isn't remotely comparable to the scale of tragedy that occurred in Haiti, and it's probably best to steer clear of that argument. Otherwise, the world's liable to wonder whether Americans are a selfish society, insensitive to the plights of people outside their borders.