Migrant flow into US from Caribbean spikes

Go Lean Commentary

The subject of nationality is dominant in the news right now. This is due to many illegal migrants fleeing their homelands seeking a better life abroad, for themselves and/or their children, many times at great risk to their lives. The issue of the processing of immigrant children is where the simple desires meets complicated politics.

Do children of illegal immigrants have the right to stay in their new country of birth or be deported back to the homelands of their parents? What if one parent is a citizen of the host country, should gender of the parent matter?

These questions reflect the heavy-lifting burdens that the Caribbean member-states must address regarding nationality and immigration.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for elevating Caribbean society, for all 30 member-states. The book does not ignore the subject of nationality and immigration. In fact the roadmap provides perhaps the ultimate resolution to this perplexing problem, that of a regional entity providing a regional solution. Consider the details of this news article:

Title: Migrant flow into US from Caribbean spikes
Associated Press Wire Service; Posted: January 4, 2015
By: Jennifer Kay

MIAMI (AP) — Just starting a five-year sentence for illegally re-entering the United States, George Lewis stared at the officers staring back at him at Miami’s federal detention center and considered whether he’d risk getting on another smuggler’s boat — a chance that soaring numbers of Caribbean islanders are taking — once he’s deported again.

CU Blog - Migrant flow into US from Caribbean spikes - Photo 1U.S. authorities deported Lewis following a four-year sentence for a felony drug conviction in May 2013 to the Bahamas, where he was born but lived only briefly. His Haitian mother brought him to Miami as an infant, and though he always considered the U.S. home, he never became a legal resident.

Just five months after he was deported, he got on a Bahamian smuggler’s boat with over a dozen other people trying to sneak into Florida. It capsized and four Haitian women drowned. He and the others were rescued.

So would he dare make another attempt?

“Yeah,” Lewis, 39, said with a sigh. But, he added, “I would put on a life vest next time.”

A recent spike in Cubans attempting to reach the United States by sea has generated headlines. But the numbers of Haitians and other Caribbean islanders making similar journeys are up even more. And while federal law grants legal residency to Cubans reaching U.S. soil, anyone else can be detained and deported.

That law, the so-called wet foot-dry foot policy, and Coast Guard operations related to migrants remain unchanged even as Cuban and U.S. leaders say they are restoring diplomatic relations after more than 50 years.

“The Coast Guard strongly discourages attempts to illegally enter the country by taking to the sea. These trips are extremely dangerous. Individuals located at sea may be returned to Cuba,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma, spokesman for the Coast Guard’s 7th District in Miami.

According to the Coast Guard, in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, U.S. authorities captured, intercepted or chased away at least 5,585 Haitians, 3,940 Cubans and hundreds from the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries attempting to sneak into the country.

That’s at least 3,000 more migrants intercepted than in the previous fiscal year. It’s also the highest number of Haitian migrants documented in five years and the highest number of Cubans recorded in six. It’s unknown how many made it to U.S. shores without getting caught, or how many died trying.

More than 1,920 migrants — most of them Cuban or Haitian — have been intercepted so far in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The Coast Guard worries that number will only increase as news spreads about recent changes to the U.S. immigration system, including fast-tracking visas for some Haitians already approved to join family here and an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that would make millions already illegally in the U.S. eligible for work permits and protection from deportation.

“Any perceived changes to U.S. immigration policy can cause a spike in immigration because it gives a glimmer of hope,” even to people not eligible under those changes, said Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard’s 7th District.

It’s unclear why the numbers are jumping. Poverty and political repression have long caused Caribbean islanders to attempt the journey, and the outlook remains dismal for many. Coast Guard and U.S. immigration officials think another calm summer without many tropical storms and a recovering U.S. economy might have encouraged more to take to the sea. They also say the increased captures may reflect better law enforcement.

Smuggling operations in the region range from individual opportunists looking to use their vessels for extra money to sophisticated networks that may add drug shipments to their human cargo, said Carmen Pino, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami. Smugglers also lure people, especially in relatively new routes that send Haitians into the neighboring Dominican Republic to board boats bound for Puerto Rico.

Lewis said he easily talked his way onto a smuggler’s boat with about a dozen Haitians and Jamaicans hoping to make it to Florida under the cover of darkness. He just struck up a conversation with some locals at a sports bar in Bimini, a small cluster of Bahamian islands 57 miles off Miami, where Lewis figured he could find a boat home.

CU Blog - Migrant flow into US from Caribbean spikes - Photo 2“It was like getting a number from a girl. I just needed the right line,” Lewis said in an interview in November. The failed trip cost $4,000.

After his rescue, U.S. authorities initially accused him of being a smuggler, partly because he was the only person on board with a phone, which he used to call 911 when the boat started taking on water. He scoffed at the allegation. He remembered that on the boat he was talking to a teenage Haitian girl and thinking about his mother’s boat trip from Haiti to the Bahamas as a young girl, a crossing he never thought he would emulate. “I said, ‘Run behind me when we hit land.'” He said. ” I said, ‘Follow me, I’ll get you there.'”

Now Lewis finds himself back in the U.S. but not at home and facing another forced return to the Bahamas, a homeland he doesn’t know and where the government considers Haitians who have migrated illegally and their children an unwanted burden.

Lewis knows he’d try to reach the U.S. again.

“It’s not worth losing your life, but what life do you have when you have a whole country against you? I’m completely alienated from a country where I’m supposed to be from,” Lewis said.

A key problem with this immigration issue is the nationality sensitivity of any audience. As a people, what standards are we willing to tolerate versus what conditions are so deplorable that we must protest for change, with revolutionary fervor?

The American standard, because of its “Super Power” status, tends to influence the “normalized” view for many people in the Caribbean neighborhood for what is right and what is wrong with nationality recognition. But the US standard is bred from lessons learned from hard experiences. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, (adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments, addressing citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War of 1860 – 1865), provides that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”[24] The phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” excludes children born to foreign diplomats and children born to enemy forces engaged in hostile occupation of the country’s territory.[25] Birthright citizenship is a separate concept from “natural-born citizen”, a qualification for the office of President of the United States.

The sensitivities of the issues of migration and nationality are heightened right now because countries in the Caribbean neighborhood have become more exacting in their treatment of Cuban and Haitian refugees, many even considering changes to their constitutions in an effort to tighten immigration policies so as to end the automatic birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.[12] This is already the status quo for the Bahamas.

In a previous blog commentary, the issue of the Bahamas versus the Haitian-American Diaspora in Miami was thoroughly detailed. This one point is extracted for consideration here:

The Bahamas does not automatically grant citizenship to people born of foreign parentage in its homeland. There are special provisos even if one parent is a Bahamian citizen; many details of which are gender-biased.

This Bahamian nationality standard creates a repressive circumstance for many born there to foreign parents; they have no status in the Bahamas, nor may they have any in their parent’s homeland. This means they are disqualified for jobs, advanced education or a passport – see experience of George Lewis in the foregoing news article. They cannot prosper where they are planted, nor legally migrate for better opportunities. As depicted in the Appendix AVIDEO: “they cannot win, cannot break-even and cannot get out of the game”. These ones would rather risk their lives and the lives of their children than accept this status quo.

This previous blog commentary related the Bahamas citizenship standard (jus sanguinis) versus the US/Canadian standard (jus soli), as applied to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands member-states as well. All the independent countries in the Caribbean ascribe to either the one standard or the other – see ‘Nations Granting Birthright Citizenship’ Appendix B below. The French Caribbean member-states apply French nationality standards and the Netherlands Antilles member-states apply the nationality standards of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The only other Caribbean member-states for nationality consideration are the British Overseas Territories (Bermuda, BVI, Caymans, Montserrat, and the Turks & Caicos); there is a formal Citizenship/Nationality B.O.T. process based on British Nationality standards. This summarizes all 30 member-states.

These Latin phrases, jus soli and jus sanguinis, for the applicable legal concepts are hereby explored:

1. Encyclopedic Reference: Jus soli (Latin: right of the soil)  – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli – Retrieved January 7, 2015

Jus soli is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship.[2] As an unconditional basis for citizenship, it is the predominant rule in the Americas, but is rare elsewhere.[3][4][5][6] Since the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland was enacted in 2004, no European country grants citizenship based on unconditional jus soli.[7][8] A study in 2010 found that only 30 of the world’s 194 countries grant citizenship at birth to the children of undocumented foreign residents.[5]

Almost all states in Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania grant citizenship at birth based upon the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood), in which citizenship is inherited through parents not by birthplace, or a restricted version of jus soli in which citizenship by birthplace is not automatic for the children of certain immigrants. Countries that have acceded to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness will grant nationality to otherwise stateless persons who were born on their territory, or on a ship or plane flagged by that country.

Jus soli is associated with permissive citizenship rights. Most countries with unconditional jus soli laws tend to give birthright citizenship (and nationality) based on jus sanguinis rules as well, although these stipulations tend to be more restrictive than in countries that use jus sanguinis as the primary basis for nationality.

At one time, jus sanguinis was the sole means of determining nationality in Europe (where it is still widespread in Central and Eastern Europe) and Asia. An individual belonged to a family, a tribe or a people, not to a territory. It was a basic tenet of Roman law.[9] [This is the premise of the “Christmas” story, the reason why Joseph and a pregnant Mary had to go to Bethlehem to register in accord with the declaration of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus – Luke Chapter 2:1–5; The Bible].

Lex soli is a law used in practice to regulate who and under what circumstances an individual can assert the right of jus soli. Most states provide a specific lex soli, in application of the respective jus soli, and it is the most common means of acquiring nationality.

[Consider additional sources in the reference work by Jon Feere: “Birthright Citizenship in the United States: A Global Comparison,” Center for Immigration Studies].


2. Encyclopedic Reference: Jus sanguinis (Latin: right of blood)  – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_sanguinis – Retrieved January 7, 2015

Jus sanguinis is a principle of nationality law by which citizenship is not determined by place of birth but by having one or both parents who are citizens of the state. Children at birth may automatically be citizens if their parents have state citizenship or national identities of ethnic, cultural or other origins.[1] Citizenship can also apply to children whose parents belong to a diaspora and were not themselves citizens of the state conferring citizenship. This principle contrasts with jus soli (Latin: right of soil).[22]

At the end of the 19th century, the French-German debate on nationality saw the French, such as Ernest Renan, oppose the German conception, exemplified by Johann Fichte, who believed in an “objective nationality”, based on blood, race or language. Renan’s republican conception, but perhaps also the presence of a German-speaking population in Alsace-Lorraine, explains France’s early adoption of jus soli. Many nations have a mixture of jus sanguinis and jus soli, including the United States, Canada, Israel, Greece, Ireland, and recently Germany.

Today France only narrowly applies jus sanguinis, but it is still the most common means of passing on citizenship in many continental European countries. Some countries provide almost the same rights as a citizen to people born in the country, without actually giving them citizenship. An example is Indfødsret in Denmark, which provides that upon reaching 18, non-citizen residents can decide to take a test to gain citizenship.

Some modern European states which arose out of dissolved empires, like the Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman, have huge numbers of ethnic populations outside of their new ‘national’ boundaries, as do most of the former Soviet states. Such long-standing diasporas do not conform to codified 20th-century European rules of citizenship.

In many cases, jus sanguinis rights are mandated by international treaty, with citizenship definitions imposed by the international community. In other cases, minorities are subject to legal and extra-legal persecution and choose to immigrate to their ancestral home country. States offering jus sanguinis rights to ethnic citizens and their descendants include Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Armenia and Romania. Each is required by international treaty to extend those rights.

The Caribbean member-states are badly in need of reform and remediation, to lower the “push and pull” factors that drive so many to risk their ‘life and limb’, and those of their children, to take flight under dangerous circumstances to seek a better life. Many people of goodwill do not want to live in a society where dead bodies may float up on beaches because people are desperate to leave their homeland at any cost. The Go Lean roadmap opens with the hypothesis that the Caribbean is the greatest address in the world; people should be “beating paths to get here”, not “beating down doors to get out”; (Page 3).

The idea of desperate migration is not just a problem for Cuba, Haiti and the countries in the migrants’ path (Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico) to get to better living conditions. This is a problem for all the Caribbean. There is always someone doing better and someone doing worst. For instance, while the Bahamas may have 80,000 illegal Haitians on their shores, there is a report that there were 70,000 illegal Bahamians in the US as of 2003; (College of The Bahamas 2005 Study on Haitian Migration, Page 10). The problem is so much bigger than just what’s at “face value”, the initial impression. This is a deep, serious issue that cuts at the heart of the Caribbean community ethos and requires heavy-lifting to address.

The Go Lean book and blogs posit that the effort is less to cure the Caribbean homeland than to thrive as an alien in a foreign land. But. this is easier said than done! Yet this is the quest of the Go Lean roadmap, to make the Caribbean homeland a better place to live, work and play for its 42 million residents and 80 million visitors, across the 30 member-states. The CU, applying best-practices for community empowerment has these 3 prime directives, proclaimed as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance, with consideration for minority equalization, to support these engines.

The vision is to lower the “push and pull” factors that drives many to abandon their Caribbean homeland.

How exactly can the CU impact the most troubled countries that are the source of so many illegal migrants: Cuba and Haiti? The book relates the history of post-war Europe, where the Marshall Plan was instrumental in rebooting that continent. The book Go Lean…Caribbean details a Marshall Plan-like roadmap for Cuba and Haiti, and other failing Caribbean institutions.

The related subjects of economic, security and governing dysfunction among European and Caribbean member-states have been a frequent topic for blogging by the Go Lean promoters, as sampled here:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3473 Haiti’s Failed Attempts to Expand Caracol Industrial Park and Job Engines
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3455 Restoration of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba – Need for Re-boot Now
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3050 Obama’s immigration tweaks leave Big Tech wanting more
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2907 Local Miami Haitian leaders protest Bahamian immigration policy
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2809 A Lesson in History: Economics of East Germany
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2480 A Lesson in History: Community Ethos of WW II
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2330 ‘Raul Castro reforms not enough’, Cuba’s bishops say
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1531 A Lesson in History: 100 Years Ago Today – World War I
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1433 Caribbean loses over 70% of tertiary educated citizens to the   brain drain
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1014 All is not well in the sunny Caribbean
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=623 Only at the precipice, do they change
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=599 Ailing Puerto Rico open to radical economic fixes

The Go Lean book details a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to optimize the “push/pull” factors that send Caribbean citizens to the High Seas to flee their homeland:

Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Anti-Bullying and Mitigation Page 23
Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Manage Reconciliations Page 34
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision –  Integrate region into a Single Market Economy Page 45
Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization Page 57
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Department of Homeland Security Page 75
Implementation – Ways to Foster International Aid Page 115
Planning – 10 Big Ideas … in the Caribbean Region – Haiti & Cuba Page 127
Planning – Ways to Ways to Model the EU – From Worst to First Page 130
Planning – Reasons Why the CU Will Succeed – Germany Reconciliation Model Page 132
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices – Cuba & Haiti on the List Page 134
Planning – Lessons from East Germany – European post-war rebuilding Page 139
Planning – Lessons from the US Constitution Page 145
Planning – Lessons from Canada’s History Page 146
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Empowering Immigration – Case Study of Indian Migrants Page 174
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Justice Page 178
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Protect Human Rights Page 220
Advocacy – Ways to Help Women Page 226
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Youth Page 227
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Dominican Republic Page 237
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Haiti Page 238
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Trinidad & Tobago – Indo versus Afro Page 240
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Guyana – Indo versus Afro Page 241
Advocacy – Ways to Impact US Territories – All is not well Page 244
Appendix – Puerto Rico Migrations to New York Page 303

All of the Caribbean needs to deal with these domestic issues … now! We need to learn from the experiences of our neighbors, as depicted in the Go Lean book, and minimize the push-pull factors leading to societal abandonment. The US learned its lessons from a Civil War (Page 145), Canada from the fears of war (Page 146). As depicted in the foregoing news article, our citizens are dying in the waters trying to flee our homelands. When is enough, enough?

CU Blog - Migrant flow into US from Caribbean spikes - Photo 3The Go Lean/CU roadmap has proposed solutions: CU citizenship; and facilitating the Lex soli process at the CU level – thereby removing the subjectivity and bias to the nationality process. Fragments of this proposed system is already in place with the issuance of CariCom passports. The Go Lean roadmap calls for the assembling of CariCom organs into the CU Trade Federation, the Caribbean passport practice would therefore continue.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean to learn the lessons from history or other successful (US & Canada) and unsuccessful societies (East Germany, etc.). The Go Lean book posits that the Caribbean is in a serious crisis, but asserts that this crisis would be a terrible thing to waste. The people and governing institutions of Cuba, Haiti and the entire Caribbean region are hereby urged to lean-in for the empowerments described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean.

This is a Big Deal for the region, as real solutions can finally be realized. Then we can present to the world that the Caribbean homeland is truly a better place to live, work, and play.

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix A – VIDEO: The Wiz – http://youtu.be/3r1ssg1LIt4 The Crow Anthem (1978)

“You can’t win … can’t break-even and you can’t get out of the game”

Appendix B – Nations Granting Birthright Citizenship – Excerpts

(Source: https://www.numbersusa.com/content/learn/issues/birthright-citizenship/nations-granting-birthright-citizenship.html)

Birthright Citizenship is the automatic granting of citizenship to children born within a nation’s borders or territories. The United States and Canada are the only developed nations in the world to still offer Birthright Citizenship to tourists and illegal aliens. 8 U.S.C. § 1401 : US Code – Section 1401 (1952) grants automatic citizenship to any person born in the United States.

The following are among the nations repealing Birthright Citizenship in recent years:

  • Australia (2007)
  • New Zealand (2005)
  • Ireland (2005)
  • France (1993)
  • India (1987)
  • Malta (1989)
  • UK (1983)
  • Portugal (1981)

Birthright Citizenship – Caribbean Neighborhood Only



Canada Bermuda
United States Netherlands
United Kingdom

Birthright Citizenship – Caribbean Neighborhood Only



Antigua and Barbuda Bahamas
Barbados Haiti
Belize Suriname
Dominican Republic
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Lucia
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago



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