Fate of Undocumented Chinese in Haiti Remains Unknown
World Journal, News Report, Cao Jian, Translated by Vivian Po Posted: Jan 15, 2010
NEW YORK—In recent years, Haiti has become a stopover for hundreds of undocumented immigrants from China before they cross into the United States illegally. After Tuesday’s earthquake, the safety of these Chinese immigrants remains unknown. Their relatives and friends in China and the United States are anxiously awaiting word from their loved ones.
In Manhattan’s Chinatown, several Chinese family associations have received phone calls from their relatives in the Changle, Mawei and Lianjiang areas of Fujian Province in China, asking for help searching for their relatives and friends who are stuck in Haiti.
Since no diplomatic relationship has been established between China and Haiti, the Chinese government’s ability to protect Chinese citizens there is very limited. China can only set up business-related offices in Haiti, and phone lines and other means of communications with these offices have been down since the earthquake.
Chan, a community leader from the Fujianese family association, said human traffickers often hide Chinese undocumented immigrants in Haitian homes. Because they are not registered with the Haitian government, they are more vulnerable during an emergency and could easily be left out of rescue plans.
Fujianese family associations in New York are calling on the Haitian government, the Peace Corps and emergency rescue teams from China to closely monitor the safety of Chinese undocumented immigrants. One Chinese community leader said he received a call from Changle on Wednesday from a mother asking for help searching for her son who had been smuggled to Haiti.
“It’s enough that he’s alive,” she said. “Whether or not he makes it to the United States is not that important.”
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