Letters to the Editor

Readers react to Trump’s ‘s---hole countries’ comment

A woman sells fish on a street in Lagos, Nigeria, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. Africans were shocked on Friday to find President Donald Trump had finally taken an interest in their continent. But it wasn't what people had hoped for. Using vulgar language, Trump on Thursday questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and "s---hole countries" in Africa rather than places like Norway in rejecting a bipartisan immigration deal. On Friday he denied using that language.
A woman sells fish on a street in Lagos, Nigeria, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. Africans were shocked on Friday to find President Donald Trump had finally taken an interest in their continent. But it wasn't what people had hoped for. Using vulgar language, Trump on Thursday questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and "s---hole countries" in Africa rather than places like Norway in rejecting a bipartisan immigration deal. On Friday he denied using that language. AP

This Sunday Forum is in response to “Trump asks why US should accept immigrants from ‘s---hole countries’, sources say” (Jan. 11).

‘Thankful’ knowing immigrants

I have friends and associates who include a law professor at Duke, a research scientist at NCCU with a grant for his work to cure cancer, and an English professor at UNC.

Associates include doctors and nurses, teachers and students, preachers and priests who heal, educate and support all of us. We have friends who were orphans with little education who work two or three jobs to provide for an education for their children. Some are from Haiti who live and work in the United States.

Others are Americans who work in Haiti. Many spent days digging family and friends from rubble in the earthquake, eight years ago today. Some Haitian ancestors fought beside Americans for freedom during the Revolutionary War.

We strengthen our communities. And we are thankful to know and work with one another.

B. A. Elam

Raleigh

Haiti’s downturns

I am an immigrant from Haiti also known, in some parts, as a s---hole country. Clearly, Haiti has had problems and continues to have problems. Does this qualify us as a s---hole country? I am not sure what the qualifications are but if Haiti does meet the qualifications, let’s look at the top 10 reasons it got there:

1. After the only successful slave revolution, the European powers of the time decided that this could never happen again and the U.S. imposed a blockade on Haiti, not an embargo like Cuba but a complete blockade.

2. The Haitian economy quickly collapsed, especially when the major cash crop was sugar and the newly freed slaves could not sell to anybody.

3. France insisted on Haiti paying reparations for the properties it lost due to the slave revolution, and it took about 150 years for Haiti to repay the “debt.”

4. The U.S. has been intervening, interfering, meddling in Haitian affairs since the dawn of the Monroe Doctrine. Some say the U.S. had evil intentions, but I think it was worse; the U.S. was protecting its interests and if a few Haitians (say a few hundreds of thousands) got hurt in the process, that was just the price for good strong U.S. foreign policy.

5. The U.S. invaded Haiti in 1915 to restore order. The Marines’ first stop? The Haitian National Bank where they confiscated Haiti’s gold.

6. The U.S. protected the Duvalier regimes as much as they could even though the regimes were systematically dismantling whatever fragile institutions Haiti managed to have.

7. How bad were the Duvaliers? Before they took over in 1957, Haiti was on its way to become the industrial powerhouse of the Caribbean. After the Duvaliers – not so much.

8. Bill Clinton destroyed the Haitian rice farmer through his plan to move Haiti to the industrial age by relieving them of the burden of feeding themselves. Basically, the U.S. flooded Haiti with cheaper (for a time) U.S. rice; the Haitian farmer could not compete and went out of business (increasing exodus out of Haiti). He later apologized. At least he did not call us s---hole, but his policy did lasting damage to Haiti. I guess it’s just of matter of picking your poison.

9. Immigration from Haiti has created an immigration bubble where the best and the brightest of Haiti continuously leave for greener pastures. There are more Haitian doctors in Canada or the U.S. than in Haiti. Ouch.

10. The genocide of countless generations of young Africans through the French slaveholders. Upon setting foot on Haiti’s shore, a young African male of 17 would not live to see his 21st birthday.

Yes, Mr. President, Haiti may be, in your opinion, a s---hole country, but it did not get there by lack of character, it received plenty of help.

Reginald Mombrun, BS, JD, LL.M

Professor of Law, NCCU School of Law

Good neighbors

We were saddened and infuriated, but not surprised, to read the comments of Donald Trump regarding immigration from what he referred to as “s---hole countries.” He specifically named Haiti and Nigeria.

We live in a small Durham neighborhood that has representation from at least 12 different countries, among which are two Haitians and a Nigerian. One Haitian is a professor of U.S. constitutional law, the other is a dancer and choreographer with his own dance troupe. The Nigerian is a physician researcher specializing in pediatric nephrology.

They have wonderful families and are great neighbors. They contribute more each day to American society than Trump seemingly has his entire life.

Susan and Joe Elinoff

Durham

Immigrants can be patriots

As volunteer driver for my political party during early voting in fall 2016, I met an immigrant from the African country of Sierra Leone. He had recently become a U.S. citizen and was excited about voting for the first time but could not drive because of a visual impairment.

He waited for me to pick him up outside his apartment. He wore a red hat, white shirt and blue jeans and carried a folder with his citizenship papers. Only after we had parked outside the polling place did I realize that he also had a physical impairment that made it hard to walk. He held onto my arm as we slowly headed to the polling place. He refused to stop and rest, showing dignified determination to press ahead.

Inside, an election worker spoke to him warmly and helped him register and vote. Afterward, another worker gave him an “I Voted” sticker. He tucked it in his folder with his citizenship papers – for safekeeping, he said. I wish our president could meet this patriotic man.

Jane Ruffin

Raleigh

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