Saturday, January 16, 2010

Operation Pierre Pan Postponed; Politicians Pander

Please go to my previous entries, Haiti Child Evacuation: A New Operation Pedro Pan (my keystone Haitian entry), Haiti: Misc. Updates on Adoption and Pat Robertson, and Pat Robertson and Adoptee Rights for the context of this entry

Last night, Anon Guy posted an article on the new Pedro Pan scheme, now publicly and unembarrassedly dubbed, "Operation Pierre Pan," in the comments at my "Child Evacuation" entry. It appears that some "reasonable" heads have prevailed temporarily, but only out of expediency, not lack of enthusiasm for a mass childlift to the US.

I was going to post the full article published in Friday's Sun Sentinel, but on second thought, Anon Guy did such a nice job of culling and emphasizing the important parts, I decided to post his vetted version instead. I urge you to read the entire article, though, since it also deals with the anti-immigrant nativists poised to throw a hissy fit over little black kids "sneaking" into the country--which is not in any way, shape or form related to our objections.

Organizers say too soon to implement "Operation Pierre Pan" for Haitian orphans

Randolph McGrorty admits it's a little too soon to focus on what some are calling "Operation Pierre Pan," but the concept has already captured the imagination of advocacy groups and others looking to offer hope to the orphans of the Haitian earthquake.

"The response has been swift and overwhelming," said McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Charities Legal Services in Miami. McGrorty floated the idea in news conferences Thursday. By Friday morning, he had to remind supporters that the immediate need in Haiti has to take precedence over the concept, which is modeled after the "Operation Pedro Pan" movement that brought thousands of Cuban children to the United States in the 1960s.
That, he said, will take some time, not to mention the permission of the United States government. McGrorty said he has contacted the Department of Homeland Security about the idea, but no commitments have been made at this early stage.
"We've already begun to make preparations and are willing to do our part," said Mark Riordan, Broward County spokesman for the state's Department of Children and Families. While he didn't know how many children could end up calling Broward County home, Riordan said he does not every child [sic] in the program to end up in South Florida.

He also doesn't expect them all to be orphans. "It would not surprise me if parents who wanted a better life for their children gave them up and said 'Here, take care of my child,'" he said.

Aside from the logistical issues of how many children would be brought into the United States and where they will be sheltered, there are legal issues revolving around their immigration status that need to be resolved with the federal government.


McGrorty acknowledged are (sic) big differences between post-revolution Cuba and post-earthquake Haiti, including the motivation behind the migration and the potential to ultimately reunite the children with their families. But the overall objective is the same: a fighting chance at a life with opportunity.


We're not sure which is worse, a Catholic Church-CIA plot to separate families to make kids political pawns in their War Against Communism (hardly to give kids a "fighting chance" in the US) or a Catholic-Church-neo-colonialist adoption agency plot to snatch kids to fill Catholic Charities coffers and in some cases save their souls from the evangelical missionaries that roam the streets of Port au Prince and environs.

As a quick aside, my mailbox has been overflowing for the last couple days with beg letters from evangelicals demanding money for their individual Haiti-saving missions. For instance, the radical theocratic anti-abortion Schenck Brothers, Rob and Paul, founding members of the original Operation Rescue are shilling their Faith & Action Haiti "rescue" program. During the 1992 Democratic Convention Rob (left) attempted to toss a fetus in Bill Clinton's face.

Blogger Field Negro reported Friday that a guest on rightwing film critic Michael Medved's radio talk show lectured listeners (and Medved agreed) that aid to Haiti should be tied to the country becoming a "christian nation." I've been unable to download the show to hear it myself, but here's Field Negro's account:

Medved had a some fraud masquerading as a man of god on his program, telling his listeners that Haiti has to be rebuilt into a Christian nation, (No, it wasn't Pat Robertson) and that part of the (The Haitians) problem is that they worship old African religions and believe in voodoo. Yes, he really said that. Medved and his guest wanted strings attached to A-merry-ca helping to rebuild Haiti. Only if they embrace our culture, religious teachings and way of life. "Flood the country with missionaries".

Have no doubt that christianity in its many forms will be greatly entwined in the fate of Haiti's orphans and quasi orphans.

While the churchy folks argue churchy things and raise money to push their agendas, we have the very real specter of adoption industry-State Department funny business developing. Not to mention child trafficking. (see Christiane Amanpour's interview with UNICEF Executive Director Anne Veneman found at the CNN link below for a discussion on child trafficking during natural disasters.) Don't be surprised to see serious attempts, which may succeed, to make international adoption in the US "easier" to not only accommodate Haitian paps and Haiti savers, but move all cross boarder adoptables into the spammer. The lagging adoption industry's wet dream.

CNN reported Friday night:

Foreign governments should urgently accept Haitian orphans on humanitarian grounds following this week's devastating earthquake, an orphanage director in Haiti and adoptive parents said Friday.

Emergency visas and passports could help push through adoptions that were stalled after the quake, and would open up beds for children who lost their parents in the disaster, said Dixie Bickel, director of God's Littlest Angels orphanage (a christian ministry) just outside Port-au-Prince.

The lead doesn't indicate Bickel differienting between legal orphans and quasi orphans whose status is unknown. She tempered her comments later in the interview saying that only pipeline adoptions should be finalized and the children sent to destination countries. Reportedly, many pipeline adoptions have already been finalized by Haitian courts and were awaiting US consulate approval which can take months or even years. (I'd like to know more about that).

While pipelines might make sense, we doubt that the flow of children would stop there in the give-an-inch-and-take-a-mile world of IA. All of these articles hint that something much bigger is in the works.

From the February 15 Seattle Times:

Adoption advocates met Thursday in the Capitol Hill office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., (right) to discuss the quake's impact on adoptions. Many parents have been pushing to see if the State Department can expedite adoption proceedings, because they fear orphanages will need to serve other children left homeless or alone after the quake.

Chuck Johnson, chief operating officer of the National Council for Adoption, said the experts agreed that efforts should be made to expedite proceedings for the relatively small number of U.S. families whose adoptions were nearly complete. But there almost certainly will be substantial delays in most of the roughly 900 pending adoption applications because of the chaos in Haiti, including widespread loss of essential documents.

and this similar report from the the January 15 LA Times telling us what the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (the same folks who threw a cow over the film Orphan) is up to:

Executive director Kathleen Strottman (left)of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute says staffers from more than 30 congressional offices met Friday with the State Department and other agencies involved in foreign adoptions.

Strottman says that the State Department is considering what is an appropriate use of its authority to ensure the children are safe. Many families have been pushing for emergency visas that would allow the children to come to the United States.

and then there's the January 15 New York Daily News account of Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James pleading in the name of wannabe pap constituents:

In Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James (D, WFP-Fort Greene) that she is working with federal officials to make sue those children find new homes as soon as possible. "Fifty percent of Haiti's population is under the age of 21, and 39% of that is under 15. A log of them are now orphans. They've got family members here, and there's a lot of New Yorkers who would like to adopt. From what I know, the adoption process is a nightmare. It can takes years. We need to expedite the process and create a smooth transition."

Friday evening the Miami Herald reported:

At a second news conference at the offices of immigrant rights advocate Cheryl Little, McGrorty said the project is still in a ``very preliminary stage'' and may take several weeks to launch. He also said that by the middle of next week he may have additional details as Archdiocese officials turn over the plan to logistics experts in the Catholic Church.

A temporary shelter in Broward County has already been identified to immediately house the children, McGrorty said.

He also said the people behind the effort have been in contact with the Obama administration to assist in bringing the children from Haiti under a ``humanitarian parole'' -- a special immigration category that enables foreign nationals to stay in the United States under special circumstances even if they are not necessarily eligible for a visa.

The Pedro Pan initiative drew immediate support from local Haitian leaders, South Florida's federal lawmakers, Miami-Dade commissioners and city leaders.

Marleine Bastien, head of Haitian Women of Miami, who is helping in the rescue effort, said aiding Haiti's orphans is a worthy endeavor.
``We've heard that there are children wandering the streets who don't know what happened to their parents; we need help for those children. They should be allowed to come live with relatives here or be placed in group homes,'' she said.

One commenter responded seemingly unaware of where a good many of these kids will end up:

For the posters who claim we have thousands of kids in this country on foster care awaiting for adoption, I'd like to say that these american kids are probably NOT orphans due to a catastrophic event in a poor country. The kids in foster care here in the US are most likely the result of parent's neglect and irresponsibility. I do not believe in the foster care system in the US. A lot of foster parents do it for the money. They are uneducated and offer very little guidance or nurturing. Many foster youths are "damaged" beyond repair by their own parents and the foster system. That is why so many american couples adopt children from outside the US.

Another--a Medved fan?-- offered this solution:

One solution: allow religious groups to adopt children. That way they can be responsible for the children's care and not burden the taxpayers with those expenses.

It's clear a human rights disaster is in the making. Paps, adopters, the Catholic Church and rival evangelicals, the State Department, Homeland Security, national and local politicians, and the upper echelons of the Obama administration, if not Obama himself, are bound and determined to denationalize and disenfranchise thousands of Haitian children to "save" them through American privilege and largess. A cynic might call it a modern white man's burden. We call it strip mining Haiti.

That's not to say the situation isn't heartbreaking or that help for Haiti's children isn't urgently needed. Haiti is a desperately poor country (much due to US foreign policy and support of its long line of venal, violent dictators). Haiti's pre-earthquake orphan population has swelled with new orphans, quasi orphans, and potential orphans ripe for sex and servitude trafficking. Removal for adoption under current conditions is another form of trafficking.

We do not object to Haitian children, orphans and otherwise, being sent to credible and documented parents or family members in the US legally for temporary or permanent care depending on the circumstances. We do object to the unethical and possibly unlawful mass transfer of traumatized children, many with family status unknown, to foreign shelters and foster care, removed from their culture and language, with little hope of reunification. We also object to children being used as commercialized foreign policy pawns. Although Pedro Pan had positive outcomes for some, its intent and motives make it an illegitimate model for today's Haitian earthquake child victims. Cold War politics destroyed Cuban families. Unchecked adoption industry greed, pap entitlement, and soft neo-colonial foreign policy cannot be permitted to disenfranchise a generation Haitian children.

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