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The Making of Modern Immigration: An Encyclopedia of People and Ideas [2 volumes]
Pageix(9 of 864)
ix The Making of Modern Immigration: An Introduction Patrick J. Hayes As I began to write these lines, a devastating earthquake ripped open Haiti’s capi- tal, Port-au-Prince, and radically altered the lives of millions of residents. Through- out the world, there was the immediate realization that this impoverished nation was now even more deserving of assistance in the form of both material aid and a shift in national and international policy priorities. In the United States, there was a swift commitment of resources to aid the rescue efforts and sustain the survi- vors. For the first time, the nation’s citizens were able to text their charitable con- tributions via their cell phones—mostly in increments of $10 per person—merely by punching in coded numbers. It was a visceral reply of compassion, made easy and affordable for the masses. Children became the special object of several U.S. groups who felt compelled to travel to Haiti and “rescue” as many orphaned chil- dren as possible. Claiming that they were “only trying to do the right thing,” they gave no sign of repatriating these children, and, indeed, some were arrested on suspicion of child trafficking. A people now even more destitute were raised to consciousness through the media’s ability to convey a surfeit of emotions brought on by amputations and joyous rescues, makeshift operating wards and tent cities, and a strange admixture of violence and compassion hastened by food shortages. Among the most touching scenes, and arguably among the causes of a well- spring of U.S. philanthropy, were the stories of many thousands of Haitian Ameri- cans currently residing in the United States who were struggling to learn whether their relatives and friends in Haiti were still living. There are over half a million Haitian immigrants in the United States at present, clustered largely in places like New York and Miami. The Department of Homeland Security estimated at the time of the earthquake that between 100,000 and 200,000 more Haitian immigrants were in the United States on a temporary basis or without authorization and would not be subject to removal as long as there was no functioning country to which they could return. Public sentiments conjured by scenes of wailing relatives pining for some bit of news about their loved ones erased these distinctions in the popular mindset. Suffering knew no boundaries. News images of the dispossessed became