By Francois Pierre-Louis
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Extra resources for Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations
Although the hometown associations encompass all kinds of immigrants in their membership, they still remain one segment in the overall composition of the Haitian immigrant community in New York City. The activities that they engage in, and how they relate to nonmembers in the community, are important to analyze and understand. Long before the creation of the hometown organizations, the Haitian community itself had some distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other immigrant groups in the city.
Certain features are unique to Haitian hometown associations because of the ideological differences between the left and the right, the need for the Haitian community to establish itself in the city, and the attempt of the exile immigrants to define the character of the community. Although neither the left nor the conservative groups succeeded in overthrowing the Duvalier regime, they did leave a political legacy in the community that consisted of activism, participation, and a fierce attachment to Haiti and its politics.
They criticized the Reagan administration for granting political asylum to Cuban boat people while incarcerating their Haitian counterparts. The refugee crisis became a galvanizing issue for the activist organizations. S. S. policy toward the Haitian community (Haïti Libération, December 1980). The refugee crisis provided the Haitian leaders with the opportunity to broaden their support in mainstream America. Community centers and activist organizations such as HAUP, the Charlemagne Peralte Center, and the Committee against Repression in Haiti developed a series of networking relationships with prominent Americans from labor and civic movements to seek support for the Haitian refugees who were fleeing the Duvalier regime.