In 1803, as Haitians edged closer to victory in their 13-year war against France, the United States reaped the most tangible benefit of their struggle: it obtained 13 new states as a weakened Napoleon abandoned the Louisiana Territory and sold it to the U.S. at a mere 3 pennies per acre. As the size of the United States doubled to 26 states, the U.S. "thanked" Haiti by imposing an embargo intended to cripple the island’s slave-free economy. It took 60 years before the embargo would be lifted by President Abraham Lincoln. Haitians have fought for America in every war from the battlefields of Savannah to the oilfields of Irak. Haitian names and contributions are inscribed on memorials and communities across America: Audubon, DuBois, DuSable, Toussaint; Chicago, New Orleans, Savannah, Little Haiti. Several American towns honor Haiti with their names: Hayti, Louisiana; Hayti, Missouri; Hayti, North Carolina; Hayti, Pennsylvania; Hayti, South Dakota. The United States would destroy its credibility to turn its back on a neighbor that has given so much, even while having so little.
Haiti is currently in a precarious situation, afflicted by both natural (earthquake, hurricane, flooding) and man-made (cholera, corruption, unemployment) disasters. The most effective aid the U.S. can provide is to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals who currently reside in the United States. This would create a win-win situation for both the US and Haiti as TPS workers tend to be a stabilizing influence contributing income to both their home and host country.
Today, the Haitian-American community awaits to see if President Donald Trump will extend a hand to the 50,000 Haitian nationals whose Temporarary Protected Status expires on July 24. During his 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump offered himself as the "greatest champion" of the community, suggesting that he had more to offer Haitian -Americans than candidate Hillary Clinton. Today the community awaits to see if the president will make good on his promise and extend TPS.