The Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition (HAGC) is a social justice movement created in 1998 with the purpose of defending the interests of Haitian Refugees and migrants seeking safe haven in some of the Caribbean Islands and especially the United States. HAGC was the leading Miami-based organization that coordinated local and national initiatives and worked with congressional leaders and the Clinton Administration to enact a landmark legislation known as the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) of 1998, a law that provided 50,000 Haitian Refugees the right to adjust their immigration status. This law was enacted in order to remedy to two decades of blatant discrimination of the United States Immigration Service against Haitian Nationals seking asylum. During the 1980's and 1990's, the US government just approved 1% to 2% of Haitian refugees seeking asylum.
HAGC has been at the forefront of the plight for the rights of Haitian Expatriates at different levels: regional, federal, national, and local.
On the aftermath of the forced departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, HAGC sent two missions to Kingston, Jamaica to speak with government officials regarding treatment of Haitian Asylum Seekers placed in quarantine by authorities of that country. HAGC contacted the Haitian Prime MInister Gerard Latortue to provide safe passage to hundred of Haitian refugees who were quarantined in Jamaica's internment camp and were not treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
HAGC in 2006 at the OAS XXXVI General Assembly Conference HAGC featured a string of violent crimes perpetrated by Dominican Citizens against Haitian Nationals before the Assembly. The HAGC representative dubbed the Dominican operation against Haitian as an ethnic cleansing policy designed by a segment of the Dominican Republic oligarchy to force Haitian Nationals out of the country. This ethnic cleansing policy has evolved in 2008 has escalated into public decapitation conducted by Dominicans against Haitian Nationals. During 2009 there have been cases of four decapitations and killing near the Jimani Border shared by both the Republic of Haiti and the Dominicany.
In 2006, HAGC sent a delegation to Haiti to create awareness with the Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis , the American Ambassy in Port-au-Prince to create awareness on the TPS designation for undocumented Haitians in the US. HAGC raised the issue of Human Rights abuse by the current government, especially the indefinite detention policy against political prisonners.
In March 1998 in its efforts to galvanise and create a groundswell of support for the passage of the landmark legislation in the U.S Congress, the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness (HRIFA), HAGC coordinated a national march in Washington DC on the steps of the U.S Congress in order to get the attention of the policymakers to approve the legislation. 10 to 15,00 paqrticipants nationwide attended this event.
HAGC was the leading organization in 2000 that collaborated with other Haitian-Americam groups and others in different states of the US to create awareness on the need for the United States Census to create a Haitian Category in the census form during the census 2000. In 2003, in collaboration with several Haitian organizations in New York, HAGC was successful to force the producer of Vice City Grand Theft Auto -II to remove in their video a section that Haitian-Americans consider diffamatory against their ethnic group.
HAGC in 2004 initiated the campaign for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Designation for Haitian Nationals in the United States as a result of political turmoils and natural disasters that hit Haiti in 2004, 2007 and 2008. Although the Bush Administration has rejected the TPS request for Haitian Nationals currently living in the United States, HAGC has continued its efforts to have the Obama Administration to review the Bush Haitian immigration policy.
HAGC in 2007 filed a federal law suit against the Florida Department of State regarding a voting law that the State of Florida enacted that disenfranchized Haitian Nationals. Known as No match - No vote Law, first time voters with compound first name (Haitian Nationals) or compound last name (voters of Hispanic origin) are rejected by the government database Department of motor vehivle (DMV) and the Social Security Administration. These voters are allowed to vote only via conditional ballots in many counties in Florida. Outcome of this case is still pending.
Fair Representation Project
HAGC in 2001 initiated the Fair Representation Project in order to get Haitian -Americans fair representation in the MIami-Dade County Government. The County rejected HAGC's proposal to increase the number of commission districts from 13 to 15, by a 2 to 5 votes in 2001. A new proposal brought before a county was rejected also in 2007.