Rep. Ritchie Torres and Rep. Yvette Clarke Introduce Resolution to Acknowledge Haitian History

Sep 22, 2022

Washington DC – Reps. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) and Yvette Clarke (NY-09) introduced a resolution recognizing the history between Haiti and France, acknowledging the country as the first free Black nation in the Americas, how the aftermath of their freedom is directly related to their impoverished state today, and realizing the importance of this history.

The horrific effects of colonization still severely impacts Haiti today. Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas, with 59 percent of the population living below the national poverty line, and around 60 percent of the population lives on less than $1.00 a day. Haiti has never recovered from the damage caused by its colonizers.

The resolution recognizes the long-forgotten history between Haiti and France and its direct impact on the economic and social challenges the country faces today, pledges to make Haitian history known throughout the United States and welcomes immigrants presently in the United States and individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States. The resolution also encourages the people of the United States to work with their immigrant neighbors and colleagues to advance the current and future well-being of immigrants to the United States.

“As the first free Black nation in the Americas, Haiti is still recovering from the long-forgotten history between Haiti and France that left direct social and economic consequences on the country today, ” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15).  “The painful legacy left behind by slavery and colonialism requires intentional recognition by the US and France to move forward and promote recovery in Haiti. This resolution is a commitment to encourage the US Federal government to promote just immigration policies and recognizes the contributions Haitian Americans have made to American society and economy. I’m proud to partner with my colleague Congresswoman Clarke to highlight the importance of Haitian history while also sending a message that the United States is proud to welcome Haitian Immigrants into our communities.”

“Though Haiti’s solemn history of tragedy is familiar to many in America, fewer recognize the root causes of the nation and its people’s pain today,” said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09). “Haiti’s double debt is nothing more than an unjust and callous colonial stain that has impacted Haitian civil society from its inception to present days. And it is long past time every American understands that indisputable fact. As we look towards our cherished Caribbean neighbor and see the scale of human need confronting it, I am proud to introduce this resolution.”

“We welcome this strong resolution by Congressman Torres and Congresswoman Clarke acknowledging the fact that Haiti is the first sovereign Black country in the Americas after the only successful slave revolt in the world. Yet, the price Haiti and its people continue to pay for daring to exist, for daring to create a new reality, for fighting for true freedom and liberation for all people of African descent is steep. France, the United States, and other world powers have a long history of colonialism, imperialism, and anti-Blackness. They have re-written history to justify their political and economic policies that continue to impoverish and destabilize Haiti to this day. This resolution highlights France’s debt to Haiti and is a reminder to the United States to provide protection for Haitian migrants and immigrants,” said Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

The resolution also commits to working with fellow Members of Congress, the executive agencies that administer immigration laws and policies, and the President to promote smart and just immigration policy for immigrants presently in the United States, their families, and individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States in the future. Immigrants contribute to the health, safety, diversity, and prosperity of the United States by finding their place in the vibrant, multiethnic, and integrated society of the United States. Therefore, we must work with Haiti not against them.

See resolution text here


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