Obama to expedite U.S. entry for thousands of Haitians

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Haitians eligible to receive green cards in two years soon will be able to wait it out in the United States rather than in Haiti under an expedited family reunification program announced Friday by the Obama administration.

Beginning early next year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program to accelerate the reunification of eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, who are living in Haiti and have already been approved for a family-based immigrant visa.

There are approximately 100,000 Haitians in the immigration pipeline in Haiti but only those two years away from being issued an immigrant visa for a green card will be eligible to apply. Once paroled into the United States, individuals will be eligible to apply for a work permit and continue their wait for the green card while here.

Haitian and immigration advocates, who launched the push for accelerated family reunification in the days after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, welcomed the major policy shift but vowed to keep fighting on behalf of all those who remain in visa backlog. For some, the wait is as

“We are grateful that the administration has stepped up to the plate and done the right thing,” said Cheryl Little, executive director of Americans for Immigrant Justice. “I was hoping it wouldn’t be as restrictive as it seems to be in terms of which Haitians who are eligible to join their loved ones here, but obviously it’s going to benefit a number of Haitian families who have been waiting for this since the earthquake.”

The hemisphere’s worst disaster, Haiti’s quake killed more than 300,000, injured an equal number and left 1.5 million homeless. he expedited program announcement comes not only three months before the fifth anniversary of the disaster, but reportedly ahead of plans by President Barack Obama to legalize by executive action, many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. This summer, Obama threatened to fix the country’s immigration woes by taking action on his own after congress failed to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Last year, the Senate passed a bill that would have provided a path to legal status for millions of long-term undocumented immigrants while also strengthening border security. But House Republicans refused to consider the Senate bill, which some conservatives said was amnesty for lawbreakers.

“Comprehensive immigration reform would have solved this problem not just for Haitians but for all other nationalities who are waiting in the immigrant visa backlog because it would have substantially increased the numbers of family immigrant visas available and people would have been able to come in as permanent residents,” said a senior U.S. government official, who was not authorized to speak on the record. “As it hasn’t happened, we are proceeding with this program.”

The relief for Haitians hasn’t been as controversial as the anticipated executive action because it involves a limited number of Haitian nationals.

Officials point out that the Haitian family reunification program is fashioned after a similar program for Cubans, where the U.S. has agreed to grant at least 20,000 annual visas. Some advocates estimate that the number of Haitians could be as many as 5,000 in the first year.

“It’s a very limited program,” said Steve Forrester, a Haitian immigration activist, who like others see Friday’s announcement as a compromise of what they wanted. “We don’t know how many people it will cover, and a lot will depend on how quickly they implement it.”

Still, Forrester, who has led the years-long effort as immigration policy coordinator for the nonprofit Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, said “it’s a good first step in the right direction.”

“This isn’t a gift. They did this because of how Haiti is. This will save lives and reunite families, and hopefully generate some remittances for Haitians in need,” he said.

According to the Inter-American Development Bank, in 2013 Haitians sent home about $2 billion in remittances, which have become a lifeline of the country’s weak economy.

Guerlin Macajoux, 48, of Miami said he applied for his son Bendy, 28, four years ago. The last time he checked, he said, there was still a three-year wait.

“I haven’t seen him for a long time and I would like to see him,” said Macajoux, who is too ill to travel to Haiti. “I would like to see him. Things are very difficult for him in Haiti even though I am encouraging him to stay in school until the three years come.”

The push for a Haitian immigration program had attracted at least 80 pieces of support from diverse groups. There were letters to the White House from national Republican and Democratic lawmakers, the entire South Florida congressional delegation, the Miami-Dade County Commission, the NAACP, the African American Baptist Mission Collaboration, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the American Bar Association and a range of Haitian American and other civil rights groups.

But even with all that, including 17 editorials in nearly a dozen major U.S. daily newspapers, some had given up hope the program would happen.

“We are elated by the Obama administration…for finally listening to our collective voices,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami.

“At least we have our foot in the door,” she added. “But we will continue to work for the rest of the group who are qualified to get them the opportunity to be reunited with their family members because they have been waiting for so long.”

South Florida congressional lawmakers also welcomed the news.

“This is a great win for my Congressional District, which is home to the largest Haitian community in the U.S,” said U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens. “I look forward to personally welcoming and rolling out the red carpet for the first wave of recipients of this program.”

Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security who had met with Haitian community activists over the years about the issue, said the parole program promotes a fundamental underlying goal of the U.S. immigration system, family reunification.

It also addresses another concern of the United States, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Haiti’s recovery since the earthquake.

“The rebuilding and development of a safe and economically strong Haiti is a priority for the United States,” Mayorkas said, adding that the parole program “also supports broader U.S. goals for Haiti’s reconstruction and development by providing the opportunity for certain eligible Haitians to safely and legally immigrate sooner to the United States.”

With the announcement, immigration officials are also strongly discouraging Haitians from taking to the high seas in dangerous makeshift boats to reach the United States. Dozens of Haitians have perished at sea in the last year trying to escape Haiti’s hardship.

“Such individuals will not qualify for the HFRP program and if located at sea may be returned to Haiti,” Mayorkas said.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article2920908.html#storylink=cpy

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Rutshelle Guillaume

Biography of Rutshelle Guillaume …
Born in Port-au-Prince on July 28, a family of three children, Rutshelle GUILLAUME is the only daughter of her Father. At the age of five, she began to sing at the church of God of Boulard directed by Pastor Louis DESTINVAL. His passion for music takes him to 19 years, in the group “REL”, a musical formation composed for the most part of young musicians of the National School of … Arts (ENARTS). She was able to meet her husband, Walner O. Registre (Doc wor) band leader of the group Rèl, father of her beloved daughter (Ruth-Warly O. Registre). Rutshelle is one of the most listening and charming women’s voices on the air today. Her opus “KITE M KRIYE” is asked and asked again in the shows to which she is invited to produce. This song, according to her, comes out of the particular to reach the social. Rutshelle, Philosopher of formation, joined the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of the State University of Haiti (U.E.H) in 2008. After completing her studies, she is currently completing her research in order to obtain her degree in philosophy. – Former Professor of Grammar and Philosophy at New Bird College. Rutshelle Guillaume currently works as: Protocol Officer attached to the Kiosk of the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad (MHAVE) at TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE International Airport. – During a training on vocal techniques organized by James Germain, Emmeline Michel and Stevenson Théodore at the Fokal in 2011, his performance on stage enabled him to surprise Yole DEROSE, in search of young female talents for his project “Haiti Heart of Women “. She chose to be part of her project. While awaiting the release of her album, she presents to the public the opportunity to discover it in her song titled “KITEM KRIYE” which is video-clip. In addition, Rutshelle had already participated on numerous projects with several artists and musical groups, such as: – Roosevelt SAILLANT, known as BIC Tizon dife: “Mesi ti cheri doudou” a song from his latest album entitled “Kreyòl sings Kreyòl Konpran” . Doc Filah: “Trèv pou amoni”, a song from his album “Akrilik sou twal rezon” – Eunide Edouarin dit (Eud) and Aristor Oberson says (Dad Crazy): “Fòk mwen fete”, a song of their album “Limyè wouj” – Jean Bernard Félicien dit (Hurricane) and Valkency Décembre dit (K-lib): “yon lide”, a song from their album “Knock Out” – Barikad crew , konplèks, bafon plafon “, songs from the album” RED “. To name but a few

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Neefah Song
Biography

Prior to launching her musical career, Neefah got her start by auditioning for the Brooklyn High School of the Arts; a specialized arts school where she majored in vocal music. In addition, she took Music Theory for she believes reading and writing music should be a very important factor in any musicians training.

Neefah excelled in the program and later attended the AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts where she graduated in 2006 with a degree in Musical Theater. She also graduated from the Barbizon School of Modeling the same year. Upon both graduations, Neefah began pursuing music full-time.

Stephanie “Neefah” Fontus was born on February 21st in Brooklyn, NY to a Haitian mother and a Haitian and Bahamian father. Her father, a professional bassist didn’t give her much support or encouragement when it came to music and her mother supported his decision because they didn’t want their daughter to make a career in music instead they encouraged her to complete her studies and have a normal and stable life and career. Neefah heeded her parents’ advice however it was in school where she actually found the drive and necessary encouragement that she needed and it came from her music teacher. Through her teaching and mentoring, Neefah finally felt secure enough to pursue her dream in entertainment.

Neefah went on to perform at some very prestigious events and places such as the United Nations, FAME on 42nd Street (Broadway Musical), VH1 Hop Hop Honors where she opened the show, she sang the national anthem at the Yankees’ stadium for the Mets twice to name a few.

With her career looking bright Neefah still felt the need to please her parents and obtain a degree in criminal justice but her heart still remains in music.

Neefah’s musical training and experience may be outside of the Haitian Music Industry’s (HMI) realm, she is no novice to the industry. Neefah’s collaborations include Dola Mizik, Clinton Benoit, Madman JP and Charlot Maitre on lead vocals.

Neefah’s new single entitled “Nobody but you” is officially released and Neefah is currently in the studio adding the finishing touches to her album slated for a Summer release.

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Written by Cheyna Pierre

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Yves Joseph

Yves Joseph

Background vocal

A Native of Petion-Ville, Yves Joseph, better known as Fanfan, is one of the original members of the band. Fanfan started with the band in 1968 playing the congas. In the 80’s, he moved to the front as an additional vocalist in support of Shoubou. The two have formed an impressive singing duo for the last 45 years. Fanfan is, undoubtedly, one of the most important and versatile members of Tabou Combo. Apart from being the band background vocalist, he’s also the band’s manager and main songwriter. Fanfan is a graduate (Cum Laude) from City College with a major in International Relations and a minor in Education. In the Summer of 2000, Fanfan became the first Haitian artist to land an endorsement deal with a major U.S. company when he signed with LATIN PERCUSSION (LP). Fanfan said his most positive experience with Tabou Combo was when the hit single NEW YORK CITY was released. ‘It is a good feeling to hear your songs everywhere you go in Europe, in jukeboxes, major radio stations, and Clubs,’ said Fanfan. ‘The attention you get, the pampering and the fame is unbelievable…’

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Yvon Andre

Yvon Andre

Percussions/Vocal

It was in 1968 when then fifteen year old percussionist Yvon Andre, known to all as Kapi, became a member of Tabou Combo. Back then the young musician had to sneak out of his family’s home in Petion-Ville to play with the band due to the fact that his parents were determined not to let their son become a musician. However, his love for music was too strong to be stopped. Kapi said he could have become anything, but he chose to be a musician because he loves music. It is that love that has motivated him to stay with Tabou Combo for so many years. Kapi is not just a mere percussionist; he’s also a pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. Kapi has penned many of Tabou’s hit songs. He has also written most of the band’s Spanish songs including FIESTA and PANAMA QUERIDA. The latter he co-wrote with Fanfan. Kapi said his most memorable moments as a member of Tabou was in 1998 when he traveled to the Ivory Coast to receive a lifetime achievement award on behalf of Tabou Combo, and again when RFO (French radio/television) honored Tabou Combo in Martinique; those, he said, were historical moments.

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Tabou Combo

BIOGRAPHY

“Rhythm is the essence of Tabou Combo,” says Tabou Combo’s co-founder and ex-drummer Herman Nau. The infectious rhythm of Haiti’s national dance music, Konpa (con-pah), has propelled the country’s preeminent dance band around the world. The 12 members of the band have covered many territories since leaving Haiti and relocating to New York City in 1971. By that time, Tabou had already established itself as Haiti’s number one group, and as the “Ambassadors of Konpa.” Tabou Combo now has worldwide fans and followers from London to Paris, Holland, Switzerland, Japan, South America, throughout the Caribbean and in North America.

It is easy to understand why Tabou Combo’s relentless and high-energy style of Compas dance beat knows no language barrier. Singing in English, Spanish, French or their native Creole, Tabou serves a hot mix of grooves and textures with roots from around the world. You will hear a strong dose of the Dominican Republic’s national dance music, meringue. In addition, there is Haiti’s dance-till-you-drop carnival music, rara, the hypnotic drums of Haitian voodoo rituals. Add to that quadrilles and contra-dances from Haiti’s French colonizers and funk from the American soul era to James Brown for good measure. The mixture of all these influences makes for a serious bass line that brings new meaning to the word bottom; layer upon layer of accents courtesy of drums, percussion and congas; the constant intertwining of two guitars with the feel of West African Soukous topped with bright piano riff and the brassy sound of a 3-man horn section.

Tabou Combo got started in 1968 in Petion-Ville, a town just outside Port-au-Prince, by Albert Chancy and Herman Nau and some friends, all in their teens. They began by naming themselves “Los Incognitos” because they were unknown at that time. They changed to Tabou Combo in 1969, in order to bear a name closer to the Haitian culture. That year, the band won first prize in a televised talent contest, gaining a national reputation in Haiti, and by 1970 it was one of the island’s leading bands. Then the Chancy’s parents stepped in, and Albert, the band’s guitarist, and original, leader was sent to college in Montreal and gave up music. The band dissolved and its members drifted to the United States. Early in 1971, however, an unexpected meeting led to a Tabou reunion with rhythm guitarist Jean-Claude Jean as the leader and the band has been together, with a few changes, ever since.

Employing the repetition and breaks of Afro-American gospel music, TABOU COMBO entices the listener to become listener and dancer. Almost four decades after TABOU COMBO’s establishment, the band has audiences dancing everywhere from concert halls to the streets and in nightclubs around the world. Says Fanfan, the band’s background vocalist and main songwriter, “We want people to dance and forget their sorrows.”

There is no doubt, the music is made for dancing, but Tabou also features lyrics that focus on social issues of the day. For example, the lyrics from the title cut of the group’s 1991 release ZAP ZAP deal with uplifting the image of Haitian people in the wake of bad press connected to the AIDS epidemic.

It was 1974 when the band captured Europe’s attention with its million-selling hit single NEW YORK CITY. Tabou steadily has been building its international followers ever since. The 1989 release, AUX ANTILLES (The Antilles), topped European and Caribbean charts for six consecutive weeks. AUX ANTILLES also won Best Album for Haitian Dance Music at the 1991 1st Annual Caribbean Music Awards at New York City’s famed Apollo Theater. Tabou’s release, KITEM FE ZAFEM (Let Me Do My Things), was voted among Beat Magazine’s Best of 1988. In 1989, KITEM FE ZAFEM, along with ZAP ZAP were used by the film director Jonathan Demme in his movie MYSTERY DATE. The song JUICY LUCY was chosen by French movie maker Maurice Pialat for his movie POLICE (1985). In 2002, world known guitarist Carlos Santana recorded the song MABOUYA (Foo Foo) on his album SHAMAN.

After traveling around the world with Tabou, Fanfan says he has found that people everywhere are all the same and they all love music. TABOU COMBO seduces the people with rhythm that does not let go. Konpa’s unrelenting dance beat is contagious and there are plenty of witnesses. Many of the thousands of TABOU COMBO fans around the world eagerly will testify… that is if they can stop dancing long enough to talk!

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Dat7

Biography

Based out of Hollywood, Florida, Dat7 is a Haitian band with a style deeply rooted in the finest tradition of Compas Direct with Zouk and R&B influences. Dat7 came into existence in late 2014 when former bandmates and longtime friends, Ricot Amazan (conga drums), and Eddy Viau (percussionist), join forces and created the band. They were later joined by Vladimir Alexis (drums), and Olivier Duret (vocalist), to complete the ensemble. Dat7 has created quite a stir since releasing their debut album VERDICT in October of 2015. Having been awarded the “Revelation de L’année 2015” award and the Haitian Academy Award in 2017, Dat7 continues to position itself as one of the most notable new bands, especially for their superb live performances.

Je-veux-M’envoler

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