• TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 Title Page
 Introduction
 Methodology
 Migration from Haiti
 Results
 Summary
 Footnotes
 Tables
 References






Title: Flight into despair : a profile of recent Haitian refugees in South Florida
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Title: Flight into despair : a profile of recent Haitian refugees in South Florida
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Stepick, Alex and Portes, Alejandro
Stepick, Alex
Portes, Alejandro
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Publication Date: 1985
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Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Haiti -- Caribbean
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Introduction
        Page 1
    Methodology
        Page 2
    Migration from Haiti
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Results
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Summary
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    Footnotes
        Page 21
    Tables
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    References
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
Full Text



To appear in International
Migration Review, Spring 1986








Flight into Despair

'A Profile of Recent Haitian Refugees in South Florida












Alex Stepick
Florida International University

and

Alejandro Portes
The Johns Hopkins University


July 1985


*The data on which this paper is based were collected with the support of grant
ISES-8215567 from the National Science Foundation. The statistical analysis was
conducted at the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies, University of California San Diego
where Portes was a research fellow during 1984-85.






--1--


I. Introduction

My name is Jean-Pierre and I was born in the north of Haiti in a
place called Limonede on July 5, 1955. I was an agricultural advisor in
Haiti. In 1980, I helped organize a union of farmers and the Ton Ton
Macoutes came to arrest me, so I had to come to the U.S. I knew someone
in Cap Haitien who organized trips to the U.S. My family borrowed the
money and I came in January of 1981. The U.S. authorities met our boat and
took us all off to prison camp where we stayed for more than a year
before we Were let out. As soon as we were let out of prison I came to
stay here with my cousins in Miami. I began looking for work, but had a
very hard time. Everywhere I go they say, "No work, no work." Sometimes
they say, "You Haitian go away. I don't want no AIDS here." I haven't
been sick since being here. I don't have no AIDS, but still they are
prejudiced against us Haitians. One time I got a job and worked for two
weeks. I kept asking and asking for my money, but the boss never paid me.
He still never pay me. I took some English classes and have learned a
little bit, but it's still hard to find a job. Fortunately, I have my
cousins to help me out. They let me stay here and eat here. One cousin
finally found me a job at the same hotel where he works. Now I, too, can
contribute to the house.. I also try to send money back home to Haiti. My
job only pays me about S500 a month and sometimes there's nothing left
over. But I'm still glad I have a job. In spite of all the toubles we
Haitians have had, I want to stay here. I can't go back to Haiti. I want
to stay and make a better life here in the U.S.


No single individual can reflect the diversity of over 25.000 Haitians who have

migrated to Florida in the past five years. Nevertheless, Jean-Pierre's story captures

the essence of many of these refugee migrants' experiences. The data to b'e presented

in this paper reveal a population from diverse backgrounds and with highly varied

experiences in the U.S. But the dominant theme is one of struggle, especially economic

struggle, to find work, to keep work, and to make enough money to survive. This paper

focuses on the actual conditions of recent Haitian refugees in South Florida and the

efforts that they have made to adapt to those conditions.

Based on a random sample survey of recently arrived Haitians, participant

observation, and intensive interviewing, the paper examines the following topics:

a) individual background characteristics of Haitian immigrants; b) their arrival and early

re-settlement experiences; c) their education, knowledge of English and information about








--2--


the United States; d) current employment status and occupation: e) income and use of

public assistance: f) predictors of employment, occupation, and income; and g) beliefs and

orientations. These results are presented after discussion of the methodology of the

study and the context of out-migration from Haiti.



II. Methodology .



The data for this analysis come from a sample of 499 adult Haitians who arrived in

the United States after January of 1980. They were interviewed in the late fall of

1983 and spring of 1984. The survey was conducted on the basis of stratified multi-

stage area samples. Strata in this survey are localities in the three adjacent counties

known to contain the majority of Haitians in the region: the Little Haiti sections of

Miami and Port Lauderdale and the agricultural town of Belle Glade.

Within each stratum, census tracts of high Haitian concentration were delimited and

blocks within them were designated as primary sampling units. Then, within each

delimited area, blocks were assigned unique three digit numbers and selected through a

simple random sample procedure. Within blocks, the probability of selection was fixed at

one, making all eligible households in selected blocks fall into the sample. The universe

was defined as households containing at least one eligible respondent, that is a Haitian

immigrant between the ages of 18 and 60 who arrived in the United States after January

1980. Within each selected unit, an eligible individual was interviewed and was asked to

furnish information about himself or herself and about other household members.

The survey instrument was first constructed in Spanish and then translated and

pretested in Haitian Creole. It was administered by trained Creole-French-Engligh

trilingual interviewers. Interviews lasted approximately one hour each and we

encountered virtually no refusals. Interviewers paid special attention to assuring











respondents that their answers would remain confidential and that the research was in

no way associated with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Data from these

surveys present the first, and until now, the only statistically representative information

of recent Haitian refugees in their principal areas of concentration in South Florida.

The vast majority (92%) of respondents arrived in the United States in 1980 or 1981 and,

hence, had been in the country for at least two years at the time of the survey.1 The

distribution of this sample by strata and sex of respondent is presented in Table 1.

------------------
table I about here




III. Migration from Haiti



International labor migration has been a constant feature of most Caribbean

societies since the arrival of European colonialists nearly 500 years ago (Perusek, 1984).

Within this context, Haitian migration, however, is distinct. Labor migration did not

characterize Haitian society for the period between the onset of its Revolution in the

late eighteenth century until the second quarter of the twentieth century when U.S.

economic expansion created large scale, U.S. controlled sugar plantations in the

neighboring countries of the Dominican Republic and Cuba (Locher, 1984). Since then

there has been a recurrent rural to rural flow from Haiti to the Dominican Republic and-

Cuba, interrupted only by the Dominican massacre of Haitians in the 1930s instigated by

dictator Rafael Trujillo and by the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

The U.S. did not become a favored destination of Haitian immigrants until Francois,

"Papa Doc" Duvalier assumed power in 1958.2 Since then, citizens from all levels of

Haitian society have fled their homeland. Their primary destination has been New York.







-..4--



although significant numbers are also found in Paris, Montreal, Chicago, and Boston

(Buchanan, 1979; Laguerre, 1984; Glick, 1974; Souffrant, 1974; Dejean, 1978).

Despite the size of the Haitian community in New York City and the fact that a

substantial number appear to be in the country illegally, this immigration received scant

public attention in the past. In contrast, recent boat arrivals in South Florida, although

they total less than one-fifth the estimated number of Haitians in New York, have been

the subject of much publicity. Haitians had largely ignored Florida as a migration

destination until the last decade. Between 1977 and 1981, however, fifty to seventy

thousand Haitians arrived by boat in South Florida, with the number peaking in 1980

during the Mariel Cuban boatlift (Stepick, 1982a:12; Carter, 1980). Another five to ten

thousand came by airplane. The inflow declined significantly in 1981 and again in 1982,

partly as a consequence of a maritime interdiction program initiated by the U.S.

government.

Haitians migrate from the poorest country in the Caribbean, indeed in the entire

Western hemisphere. Haiti also has one of the world's most inequitable distributions of

income and wealth, with 0.8 percent of the population controlling 44.8 percent of the

country's wealth (Fauntroy, 1980). Yet, Haiti is not a simple case of extreme Third

World poverty caused by lack of resources and overpopulation. Francois Duvalier's

regime of terror, between 1958 and his death in 1971, produced a flight not only of

people but also of capital, which led to a decline in the gross national product

throughout his reign (World Bank, 1978). Under his son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc"

Duvalier, manufacturing activity has greatly increased, especially in the assembly sector

(Inter-American Development Bank, 1979; Grunwald, Delatour, and Voltaire, 1984).

Nevertheless, income disparities between rural regions (which contain 75 percent of the

population) and urban areas have increased (Roberts, 1978).










In the midst of this grinding poverty, repression and persecution have been the

hallmarks of both Duvalier regimes. The official political repression is in addition to the

lawlessness which characterize the countryside, where government officials frequently live

solely by extortion. It is this latter, less formal, and less visible repression that lie at

the roots of most recent migration of Eaitians into South Florida (Lundahl, 1979).



IV. Results



A. Individual Migrant Background Characteristics

Our survey reveals that no simple generalizations can be made about these

immigrants' background characteristics. The sample is diverse in its sex ratio,

geographical and urban versus rural origins, education, and occupation. In essence,

Haitians come from mixed backgrounds comparable to those of other foreign groups

arriving in the United States in recent years. Table 2 presents the relevant results.

As seen in the table, Haitian females outnumber males (59 percent vs. 41 percent).

While this contradicts results from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (cited in

Metro Dade County, 1981:6), it is consistent with both U.S. census data and reports of

earlier Haitian migration (Buchanan, 1979; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1984). The sample

is also relatively young, with most respondents being in their prime working years. With

an average age of 29, our sample closely matches figures reported in the 1980 Census

for Haitians nationwide (29.4 years) and in the state of Florida (29.0 years) (U.S. Bureau

of the Census, 1984). It is also consistent with the age distribution of other

international and intranational Haitian migration movements (Allman and May, 1981;

Locher, 1984).

table 2 about here
------------------











The sample also reflects mixed origins with respect to both province and size of

birthplace and last residence. While respondents come predominantly from rural areas in

a few provinces, sizable proportions also come from cities and from the province

containing the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. There are respondents who never moved

before as well as others who changed residence numerous times. A plurality, 42 percent,

was born in Haiti's poorest, most rural province, the Northwest, which is also

geographically closest to the U.S. A majority, 63 percent, was also born in villages of

less than 10,000 population. Fully 63 percent had lived more than 20 years in the same

place before their present journey.

On the other hand, 24 percent were born in Haiti's richest, least isolated, most

urban province, the West, which also contains the nation's capital, th3 only city in Haiti

with a population over 100,000. Moreover, many in the sample moved from small, rural

villages to Port-au-Prince before they migrated to the U.S. Over one-third last resided

in cities with greater than 50,000 population. The majority of the sample came to the

United States by boat; twenty-five percent of these boat people stopped either in Cuba

or the Bahamas on their way to South Florida.

The data thus reveal a heterogeneous population much like that of other

international migrant groups. It is a young, primarily rural, but urbanizing population.

Haitians, however, are distinct from other groups in that they came mainly by

clandestine boats and confronted a uniquely different context of reception. Details of

this situation and its efforts are described in the following sections.



B. Arrival and Early Resettlement

Haitians arrived in a city and region which has had a relatively short history of

incorporating foreign migrants. Bahamians played an important role in the construction

of Miami in the 1920s, but the local economy quickly absorbed most of them and did not






--7--


develop a long term dependence on new waves of migrants (Mohl, 1984). While Cubans

have been arriving for twenty-five years, they have largely created their own economic

community (Potes and Bach, 1985, Chapter 6). The only segment of the South Florida

economy dependent upon foreign workers is agriculture and even that dependency has

only existed for about twenty years (DeWind et.al., 1977).

When significant numbers of Haitians began arriving on South Florida's shores in

the late 1970s, locally dominant groups perceived the uncontrolled entry of Haitians as a

threat to the economy of the area, an army of unnecessary and unwanted labor.3 They

promoted a resolute policy on the part of the Federal government aimed at "controlling

the borders," that is returning all undocumented Haitians and deterring others from

coming (Loescher and Scanlan, 1984; Miller, 1984). Haitians were drw- political asylum

and were designated instead as "entrants, status pending." Efforts of the Immigration

and Naturalization Service (INS) concentrated thereafter in demonstrating their

ineligibility for permanent residence in the country. The maritime interdiction program

was launched about the same time to prevent further arrivals.

At the same time, however, other groups such as churches and liberal organizations,

lobbied and used the courts to obtain better treatment for the new refugees. The legal

conflict produced an erratic policy. At times, INS denied work authorizations to all

Haitian entrants and, at other times, it freely extended them to everyone who applied.

At times, all arriving Haitians were incarcerated, and at other times they were released

directly into the community.4

Table 3 presents the data on arrival and early resettlement for this sample.

Nearly 40 percent were detained upon their arrival in the U.S. with males being more

likely to be interned and suffering longer internment periods. For many, the results

were severe psychological stress and there appears to have been numerous attempted

suicides (Stepick, 1984).










------------------
table 3 about here
------------------

Once released into the community, the Haitians had few relatives upon whom they

could rely. On the average, they were met by only one or two kin. Nevertheless, these

few relatives seem to have provided a great deal of support during the first period of

resettlement. Fully 85 percent of our respondents identified relatives as more helpful

than government, church, or other private agencies during the first six months. Perhaps

because of this influence, the new refugees moved almost exclusively into ethnic

neighborhoods with 65 percent settling in predominantly Haitian areas and another 21

percent in native black districts. These neighborhoods are mostly declining ones, marked

by high rates of overcrowding, physical deterioration, and crime.

In spite of the traumas associated with detention and an uncertain legal status,

economic problems have been the central concern of the Haitians since their arrival.

Over 60 percent of female respondents indicated that economic concerns have been their

biggest problem. Men were somewhat more likely to report that they faced no problems

or faced only immigration problems, although nearly 40 percent also reported serious

economic difficulties.

In sum, Haitian refugees arrived into a city that did not expect or desire their

presence. They suffered frequent incarceration and, when finally released, lacked the

support of strong family networks. They sought refuge in ethnic neighborhoods which

gave them access to cheap, but deteriorated housing. These severe initial difficulties

combined to make economic problems their central concern in the United States.



C. Education. Knowledge of English, and Information about the United States

On the average, recent Haitian refugees came from modest educational and

occupational backgrounds. In our sample, only 5 percent of respondents 25 years of age






--9--


and older had graduated from high school. In contrast, 27 percent of all the Haitians in

Florida and 55 percent of Haitians nationwide had reached this level of education (U.S.

Bureau of the Census, 1984). Not a single Haitian in this sample had completed four

years of college, compared to 4 percent of Haitians in Florida and 10 percent

nationwide. Female refugees had particularly low levels of education. As shown in

table 4, only one-fifth as many females as males had finished high school in Haiti. Even

then, these recent arrivals have higher educational levels on the average than their

countrymen back in Haiti. Through the 1960s and 1970s, it was estimated that 80-90%

of the Haitian adult population was illiterate (Lundahl, 1979). In recent years general

levels of education have increased, but still over 75% of the Haitian adult population is

entirely illiterate (USAID, 1983).

Since their arrival in 1980-81, nearly 55 percent of the sample have received some

education in the U.S. On the average, they completed seven months of formal courses

with males averaging a month more than females. Virtually all of the courses have been

in English, with less than 15 percent enrolled in vocational or other non-language

classes.

------------------
table 4 about here
------------------


French is the official language of Haiti and Creole is the language of everyday

use. While English is becoming more popular as U.S. influence spreads, knowledge of

English in Haiti is still very limited. Therefore, we did not expect recent arrivals to

speak English well and the survey confirmed this view. Only 18 percent of the sample

reported speaking English very well compared to 51 percent and 66 percent for Haitians

in Florida and nationwide, respectively (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1984).

It was possible in this survey to move beyond self-reports and assess knowledge of

English objectively. For this purpose, we adapted a Knowledge of English Index










developed previously for use with other immigrant populations (Portes, Clark and Lopez,

1982). Our version combined pictures for which respondents were asked to provide a

description in English with translations of several simple words. Internal consistency of

the Index in this sample, as measured by Cronbach's alpha, is .90. On the whole,

respondents demonstrated very little knowledge of English, although males did

significantly better-than females. Over 50 percent of the women and almost 40 percent

of the men had no knowledge of the language. At the other extreme, one-third of male

respondents had passable English skills, but only one-tenth of females had reached that

level.

We also attempted to assess the amount of basic cultural information that

respondents had about the United States. For this purpose, we also adopted a measure

which had proven successful in earlier research (Portes, Clark, and Lopez, 1982). The

U.S. Information Index is the unit-weighted sum of twelve items ranging from knowledge

of political figures to various tax and credit matters. Reliability is lower than for the

knowledge of English measure but still acceptable at .73. Again, males scored better

than females, but neither demonstrated much information. Sixty percent of the women

and 40 percent of the men could not answer correctly a single item; at the opposite

extreme, 10 percent of male respondents but only 1 percent of the females demonstrated

at least moderate information. These differences in knowledge of U.S. society appear

associated with different levels of media exposure, particularly to the non-ethnic press.

Females have a much lower rate of reading newspapers and, when they do, it is mostly

in Creole. Dependence on the ethnic media is still greater in the case of radio

listening, the trend being again stronger for women.

Results thus reveal a population with above-average levels of education by Haitian

standards, but significantly below the U.S. average. Gender differences are substantial

with women having much less education than men. Many refugees, including men and







--11--


women have attempted to improve their education, particularly their English language

skills, but so far these efforts have yielded little results. As a whole, the sample has

little knowledge of English or information about the U.S. society. Reflecting their lower

educations and lower exposure to the general media, women refugees are at a significant

disadvantage relative to the already low levels of males in both knowledge of the

language and of their new surroundings.



D. Employment Status and Occupation

The most dramatic results of this survey pertain to employment status and

occupation. Table 5 presents these findings. The modal form of participation of Haitian

refugees in the South Florida labor market is no participation at all. More than 80

percent of the females and over one-third of the males are jobless. Not only are these

figures much higher than corresponding ones for other minorities, such as Black

Americans, but they are also higher than for the pre-1980 Haitian arrivals. In Florida

and nationwide only 13 percent of the Haitian population was in a similar situation in

1980 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1984).

The jobless rate in this sample does not reflect unwillingness to join the labor

force. To the contrary, less than 2% of the males and just over 6% of the females

define themselves as unemployed and not looking for work. Thus the jobless rate is

almost identical to that of true (involuntary) unemployment. Current levels of

unemployment are not only overwhelming, but they reflect a quasi-permanent situation for

most respondents. Women have been unemployed nearly two-thirds of the time since

their arrival and men slightly under one-third.

table 5 about here






--12--


Refugees who managed to find jobs have also experienced significant downward

occupational mobility. The top three occupational categories, skilled blue collar, white

collar and services, and professional and managerial comprised nearly 50 percent of the

sample back in Haiti, but only 6 percent in the U.S. These figures exaggerate the trend

somewhat because of the particular traditional rural occupations many had, such as

tailors, seamstresses, and small scale commerce, which are classified as skilled or white

collar. The tendency persists, however, when comparisons are based on a cross-

nationally valid occupational prestige scale (Treiman, 1977). Occupational status as

measured by this scale declined 33 percent for males and just under 30 percent for

females from Haiti to the United States.

The importance of kin and friends, reflected in results above. ;. confirmed by the

principal sources of assistance in finding a job. Those who found employment did so

largely with the help of relatives and friends; secondarily, refugees found jobs by

themselves. Governmental and private aid agencies offered little help: less than 2

percent of the males and less than 6 percent of females found employment in this

manner.

Haitian refugees' entry into the South Florida labor market is also very different

from the principal immigrant group .in the area, Cubans, many of whom have found

employment in enterprises owned by co-ethnics or have moved into self-employment.

Barely 1 percent of employed Haitians work in Haitian-owned or operated firms. Nearly

70 percent work in firms owned by Anglos, although a substantial minority work in firms

run by either Black Americans or Latins. Only one respondent in this sample was

self-employed and he had no employees.

In summary, Haitians have experienced extraordinary difficulty in locating work in

South Florida and when they have found it, it has meant substantial downward mobility

relative to occupations in Haiti. Government and other agencies have proved of little







--13-


help in finding employment; instead, family, friends, and the refugee's own efforts have

provided the most important resources. Jobs are overwhelmingly low waged, menial ones

for non-Haitian employers; almost no refugee found work within the ethnic community,

either for Haitian entrepreneurs or by moving into self-employment.



E. Incorie and Use of Public Assistance

The precarious economic situation of this sample manifests itself not only in their

high unemployment rates, but also in the incomes received by those who have found

work. The relevant data are presented in table 6. Among employed respondents, the

median annual income is slightly over $6700. After adjusting for inflation, this figure

represents just over two-thirds of the annual income reported by Haitians in Florida in

1980 and 45 percent of the annual income of Haitians nationwide (U.S. Bureau of the

Census, 1984). While household income is somewhat higher, nearly 60 percent of Haitian

families fall below the federal poverty level for a household of three. In contrast, less

than 40 percent of Haitian households in Florida and 25 percent nationwide were below

this mark in 1980 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1984). The figures are even more striking

for females which have significantly lower incomes; over 70 percent of female refugees

had incomes below the 1983 individual poverty level.

------------------
table 6 about here
------------------

Consistent with these income figures, females are much more likely to be receiving

some form of welfare aid. More than three times as many females as males were

receiving aid at the time of the survey and they had received it for nearly three times

as long. In spite of these dismal economic circumstances, a substantial proportion of

refugees are sending remittances back to Haiti. Nearly half the men and over a quarter

of the women still managed to save enough to help those they have left behind. Among







-.14--


those who sent at least one remittance, males averaged over S200 per remittance and

females almost S140.



F. Predictors of Employment. Occupation, and Income

The profound economic difficulties portrayed by the above figures prompts the

question of whether significant differences exist around sample averages and, if so, what

variables are associated with them. Table 7 presents several preliminary but suggestive

results in the form of bivariate breakdowns of four labor market outcomes:

unemployment, welfare aid, occupational status, and monthly income. Each of these is

correlated with a set of predictors selected from the background and education variables

discussed above. Predictors include ascriptive and contextual variables such as marital

status, number of kin at arrival and help received from them; and human capital

variables, including age (an indicator of work experience), -inhiding education, knowledge

of English, and knowledge of U.S. society.
------------------
table 7 about here
------------------

Reading down the columns of this table, unemployment is significantly correlated

with all the exogenous variables, except those related to kin and family. Older

respondents and those with more education, knowledge of English and information are

significantly more likely to have found employment. Hence, human capital variables

appear strongly related, at least at this preliminary level, with opportunities to find

work. Surprisingly, in the light of previous results, neither number of kin nor help

provided by them correlates with lower unemployment. Hence, although relatives may

have been most helpful in the early months and proven useful in searching for a job, the

strongest correlates of whether one is actually found are individual skills and experience.






--15--


The situation is somewhat different in the case of welfare aid. Older refugees,

particularly those older than 38, are significantly less likely to depend on public or

private assistance. Those with moderate or extensive knowledge of English are also

much less likely to receive welfare aid, as are those who had higher incomes in Haiti.

But neither education nor knowledge of English significantly correlate with this

dependent variable, although the trends are in the expected directions. Marital status is

also a major correlate of welfare use. Singles are significantly more likely to receive

assistance, an unsurprising finding since programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent

Children are primarily oriented to support single parents.

The remaining results in table 7 pertain to employed respondents only.

Occupational status, as measured by Treiman's prestige scale, is significantly related to

marital status, education in Haiti, and knowledge of English. Neither age nor kin

assistance or economic status at arrival appear t. effectt early occupational attainment

in the United States. The monotonic relationships between educational and knowledge of

English and occupational status are consistent with results in both the general

stratification literature and that pertaining to immigrants (Borjas, 1984; Nelson and

Tienda, 1985; Stolzenberg, 1982).

Finally, the last column presents breakdowns of 1983 monthly earnings. Married

respondents earn 12 percent more on the average than singles, a relationship which

reverses that of occupation with marital status. Neither education nor knowledge of

English are significantly correlated with earnings in this sample, a result which

contradicts conventional expectations. Instead, it is economic status in the country of

origin and level of information about the receiving one which relate in the predicted

direction with 1983 earnings.

In summary, both ascriptive and human capital variables are consistently related to

labor market outcomes, although in different ways. Older refugees are less likely to be







--16--


unemployed or on welfare, but age does not effect occupational and income attainment

among the employed. Married respondents also rely less on welfare and have

significantly higher incomes, although their occupational status is lower than singles on

the average. Education and knowledge of English relate to lesser unemployment and

higher occupational attainment, but not to earnings. Significant associations with the

latter as well as with lesser welfare use correspond to the remaining human capital

variables -- economic status in Haiti and information in the U.S. Number of kin and the

help they provide fail to correlate with a single dependent variable. This unexpected

result can be interpreted as a consequence of two processes: a) family networks among

Haitian refugees are generally feeble; those with three or more relatives awaiting them

in the United States represent a small minority; b) although relatives are often

instrumental in finding jobs for respondents, the help that kin can provide is limited by

their own constrained economic situation.



G. Beliefs and Orientations

Table 8 presents the distribution of responses to a series of attitudinal and belief

items. Most of these questions were drawn from an earlier longitudinal study of Cuban

and Mexican immigrants in the United States (Portes and Bach, 1985). Results from the

earlier study provide a suitable point of comparison with present ones.


table 8 about here


Nearly one-third of Haitian refugees are Protestant, a proportion higher than that

reported for Haiti and also significantly higher than among earlier Latin American

cohorts. The Haitians also appear to attend church more frequently than is the norm

among Latin American immigrants, with nearly 90 percent taking part in services weekly

or monthly. Effects of the difficult re-settlement conditions faced by this group are






--17--


reflected in their responses to items tapping satisfaction with their current lives and

perceptions of discrimination. Compared with Latin American immigrants arriving in the

seventies, Haitians are much less satisfied with their current lives. More than 60

percent expressed some degree of dissatisfaction with their situation; among earlier

Cuban and Mexican cohorts, corresponding figures were less than 20 percent after a

similar period of 'residence in the United States (Portes and Bach, 1985:272). Fifty

percent of Haitian refugees believe there is racial discrimination in economic

opportunities and that the American way of life weakens the family. In addition, nearly

two-thirds feel that Anglos consider themselves superior to their own group, a figure 15

percentage points higher than the average among earlier Latin American immigrants after

a similar period. Finally, more than half of our respondents believe that even blacks

discriminate against them, the figure increasing significantly for males.

Actual discrimination suffered by the respondent or his family is reported, however,

to be much lower on the average than what the above perceptions suggest. Further,

despite the critical tone of these responses, close to 70 percent of the refugees are

committed to remain in the United States and plan to acquire U.S. citizenship. This'last

result suggests that notwithstanding the dismal economic conditions faced by most

Haitians, they still evaluate their current situation and prospects as preferable to a

possible return option.



V. Summary



The vignette with which this paper started provides an appropriate summary of its

contents. Jean-Pierre fled Haiti escaping economic and political repression and in search

of a better life. Awaiting him after a perilous journey were distinctly unsympathetic

authorities and an indifferent, if not hostile social environment. After a long period of






-18--


incarceration, he was finally released into a community where he confronted prejudice,

discrimination, and exploitation as he searched for work. Jean-Pierre finally succeeded

in obtaining a low-wage, menial job. With his small income, he must support himself and

perhaps help relatives back in Haiti. In spite of all these difficulties, he remains

committed to staying in the U.S. and carving a life for himself here.

This one individual illustrates well the story of many of his compatriots reflected,

in turn, in our survey findings. Few immigrant groups in recent history have suffered

unemployment, downward occupational mobility, and poverty to the extent that Haitians

have. In part, this situation is a consequence of the modest education and occupational

training brought by these refugees -- above-average in the country of origin but

significantly below U.S. standards. The consistent associations between such variables

as education, knowledge of English, and level of information with labor market outcomes

confirm the significance of individual skills for r" ward mobility.

However, this is not the whole story, for even among the better educated and

knowledgeable, unemployment rates are unacceptably high and occupational status and

income extremely low. The second part of the explanation of this situation must be

found, therefore, in the reception accorded to this foreign group. Haitians arrived into

a social context unprepared to receive them either as economic immigrants or as

political refugees. Other migrant flows arriving in the United States at the same time

came from socio-economic origins comparable to the Haitians. Yet despite their modest

abilities and frequently undocumented status, these groups managed to find some sort of

regular employment.

Examples include Mexicans in the Southwest and Midwest (Bach, 1983; Portes and

Bach, 1985: Cornelius, 1981); Dominicans in the Northeast (Grasmuck, 1984; Gurak, n.d.);

and West Indians in Florida agriculture (DeWind et.al, 1977). The commom

characteristics of these groups is that they arrive as part of a well-entrenched system





--19--


of migrant labor supply which routinely channels them toward menial employment in

industry and agriculture. In contrast to these experiences, Haitians came to South

Florida without any widespread demand for their services, either in the cities or in rural

areas.5 Thus, they were defined, from the start, as a redundant labor force and were

deprived of de facto cover and protection provided by employers to established sources

of immigrant labor (Stepick, 1982b; NACLA, 1979; Bach, 1983).

Nor were Haitians granted the status of political refugees, routinely accorded in

the United States to Cuban, Vietnamese, and other migrants from communist-dominated

countries. Although Haitians repeatedly claimed political asylum citing widespread

repression in their country, their request was consistently rejected by U.S. authorities.

The latter's efforts to portray the Haitian exodus as an exclusively "economic"

phenomenon stem from a variety of causes which include the status of Haiti as a

friendly nation within the U.S. sphere of influence and the fear that granting asylum to

Haitians could trigger similar outflows throughout the Caribbean. The net result of this .

denial was to exclude Haitians from the legal protection and economic support accorded

to other recent refugee groups under the Federal Refugee Act of 1980.

Yet, despite these unenviable circumstances, there are still reasons for hope as to

the future integration of Haitians in American society. First, there is the motivation of

the immigrants themselves. Individuals who dared cross the 700 miles of open sea to

Florida shores aboard barely seaworthy craft comprise, undoubtedly, a select group.

Their commitment to stay in the United States and to advance economically, despite all

the difficulties bodes well for their future. Second, it is likely that the original

hostility and prejudice found in their new environment will decrease with time. Although

it is improbable that Haitians will be granted political refugee status in the foreseeable

future, they are becoming integrated into the networks of labor supply in agriculture and

services which provide employment to other recent migrant groups. The likely payoff of










this process is the wholesale entry of Haitians into low-wage, menial jobs, but this is

still preferable to widespread unemployment. Such jobs may provide the requisite base

for future advancement by an ambitious group.

Conspiring against this favorable outcome are the widespread discrimination

detected by our respondents among both native whites and blacks and the persistent

opposition of federal authorities to legalize this inflow, reflected in the refusal to this

day to grant Haitians anything more than a temporary entrant status. Whether the

combination of these circumstances will keep Haitians in the bottom rungs of the social

ladder or whether they manage to overcome adversity and achieve significant progress

remains to be seen.






--21--


FOOTNOTES



1. The Behavioral Science Research Institute (1983), under commission from the

City of Miami and Dade County, conducted a random sample survey of all Haitians in the

Little Haiti section of Miami. The questionnaire focused exclusively on local public

policy issues such as demography, housing, and income.

2. Although some Haitians did play roles earlier in cultural and political

developments, particularly in Harlem, their numbers were relatively small (Laguerre, 1980;

1984).

3. Open-ended interviews conducted during the course of fieldwork in South

Florida indicated that this elite included government officials and leaders in Florida's

Democratic Party. These data were gathered in reference to pre-1980 Haitian boat

people through interviews with high-ranking INS officials. Results were reconfirmed for

the post-1980 arrivals through interviews with American Embassy officials in Haiti.

4. Haitian advocates have challenged each of these shifts in policy. The

Haitians have won most frequently cases at the District Court level on the basis of INS'

alleged violation of the principles of due process and equal protection. These victories,

however, have just as frequently been reversed at the Appeals Court level or rendered

moot by Administrative developments such as Carter's declaration conceding entrant

status to this group (see Stepick, 1982b and Zucker, 1983).

5. An example was the resistance of sugar companies in South Florida to

employ Haitians as cane cutters during the first years of the exodus. Labor for the

industry is supplied by the West Indies under a temporary contract system, the H-2

Program. Haitians have not been part of this program and the opposition of companies

to their employment reflected, in part, their unwillingness to substitute proven West

Indian labor with an uncertain and untried new supply. See Wood. 1984.

















Table i

Distribution of. 1983 Haitian Entrant Sample
by Sex and Sampling Strata


Belle"Glade



55.8


44.2


20.8
(104)


Ft. Lauderdale



46.3


53.7


19.0
(95)


Miami



34.0


66.0


60.1
(300)


Male


Female


Total


Totals



40.9


59.1


100.0
(499)







Table 2


Background to Emigration


Variable


Age
Marital Status

Province of Birth-




Size-Place of
Birth


Province of Last
Residence




Size-Place of
Last Residence


Relatives Accompany-
ing R to U.S.




Means of Travel and
Intermediate Desti-
nations


Categories


Median
% Single


% North
Northwest
West
Other


Z Born in Places
under 10,000

% Born in Cities
over 50,000


% North
Northwest
West
Other


% Living in Places
under 10,000

% Living in Cities
over 50,000


% Alone
Spouse and
Children
Other



% Airplane
Boat Direct to
U.S.
Boat, Stop in
Cuba
Boat, Stop in
Bahamas


Males


30
53.6


14.6
44.0
26.9
14.5


64.4


19.1


13.9
40.2
36.6
9.3


48.3


34.7


81.3

5.3
13.4


15.7

46.1

21.2

17.0


Females


29
48.5

22.5
48.4
16.8
12.3


62.1


12.9


17.8
44.4
30.5
7.3


39.3


34.1


70.7

9.8
19.5


Total


29
49.8

19.3
46.6
20.8
13.3


63.0


15.5


16.2
42.7
33.0
8.1


42.9


34.3


74.9

8.0
17.1


12.7

52.8

16.2


14.0

50.3

18.2


18.3 17.6







Table 3


Arrival and Early Resettlement


Variable


Categories


Number of Relatives
at Arrival

Help Received
from Relatives

Most Help Received
During First Six
Months



Camp Internment
at Arrival


Principal Problem of
R in the U.S.

/,


Ethnicity of
Neighbors 2


Mean


Males


1.6


% Great Deal or
F Pair Amount

% Kin and Friends
Government
Agencies
Church and Private
Agencies

% Never Interned
Mean Weeks of
Internment


% None
Language Diff-
iculties
Economic Diff-
iculties
Family/Cultural.
Adaptation
Immigration
Status
Other 1


% Haitian
American Blacks 2
Anglo/Latin 1
Mixed/Other


82.5

90.0

4.8

5.2

58.2

36.8


28.6

2.7

39.8

6.1

8.6
L4.2


1.2
10.5
.1.1
7.2


1 Excludes 0 weeks


of internment.


2 Neighborhood where R has lived mostly since arrival.


Females


Total


1.5


1.5


74.0

82.1

14.1


77.3

85.3

10.4

4.3

63.4

33.1


23.4


3.8


66.9

30.0


19.8


0.7


61.2


5.8


2.0
10.5


67.2
20.6
5.0
7.2


52.0

5J7

4.7
12.7


64.8
20.6
7.4
7.2







Table 4


Education and Its Correlates


Categories


Males


Education in Haiti



Education in U.S.





Knowledge of English


Knowledge of U.S.




Newspaper Reading:
a) Frequency


b) Language2



Radio Listening
a) Frequency


b) Language2


Average Years
% High School
Graduate

% No U.S. Educa-
tion
% En lish Courses
Only1,
Average Months


% None
Some
Moderate/fluent

% None
Some
Moderate/Exten-
sive


Z Daily
Weekly/Monthly
Almost Never
% Creole
English
Both/Other


% Daily
Weekly/Monthly
Almost Never
Z Creole
English
Both/Other


5.9
9.6


45.4

86.7


7.6


31.6
38.2
30.1

39.5
50.1

10.5


18.7
35.3
46.0O
28.0
31.9
40.1


3.7
1.8


43.4

86.0


6.6


52.4
35.8
11.9

60.7
38.3


1.0


3.9
20.5
75.6
37.9
34.4
27.7


58.5
33.1
8.4
46.8
6.3
46.9


69.8
27.1
3.1
26.3
11.5
62.2


4.6
4.9


44.2

86.3

7.0


44.0
36.8
19.2


52.2
40.0

7.8


9.8
26.5
63.7
32.1
33.0
34.9


63.0
30.7
6.3
38.4
8.5
53.1


1 Respondents with at least one month of education in the United States

2 Respondents who read newspapers or listen to radio programs at least monthly.


Variable


Females


Total







Table 5


Employment Status and Occupation


Variable

Occupation


Occupational
Status 1

Unemployment


Categories

Z Jobless
Unskilled/semi-
skilled
Blue Collar
Farm
Skilled Blue
Collar
White Collar
and Services
Professional and
Managerial


Haiti
ales Females
28.2 33.0


4.6
27.3


6.9
6.5


26.9 25.5

4.0 25.6


9.0


Mean Treiman
Prestige Scores 42.5


2.5


35.3


'Total
31.0


6.0
15.0

26.0

16.8

5.2


38.2


U.S.
Males Females
35.7 81.4


34.3 14.7
17.6 2.2


8.0

3.4

1.0


0.7

1.0


28.1 27.0


Average Months
During Past Three
YearsZ 10.7 22.4


% Never Unemployed


Help in Securing
First Job % Kin and Friends
Self
Government Agencies/Other


Ethnicity of
Employers




Unionized Job1


% Haitian
Black American
Latin
Anglo/Other

% Union Member


1Excludes the unemployed.

2Respondents who have been unemployed at least once.


Total
63.0


22.6
8.4

3.6

2.0


0.4


27.4


6.1


17.8


1.2


3.2


66.4
27.9
5.7



24.3
14.2
61.5


75.2
23.0
1.8


1.8
19.3
8.3
70.6

5.0


70.7
25.5
3.8


1.2
20.8
10.0
68.0


5.3







Table 6

Income, Remittances, and Welfare Aid


Variable

Income in Haiti


Current Income


Household Incom -




Remittances to
Haiti



Home Ownership

Welfare Aid4


Categories Males

Median gourdes
per month1,2 100

Median 1983 600
dollars per month2

Median 1983
dollars per Month 712
% Below Poverty
Level3 46

% Sending Remit-
tances 45.3
Average Last Remit-
ance, 1983 dollars 205

% Home Owners 1.9

% Receiving Aid 12.7
Average Months of Aid
Since Arrival 5.2,


.Females


60

440



508

71


27.9

137

2.5

40.3

14.3


Total


70

563



600

59


34.9

173

2.3

29.2

11.6


1 U.S. $1 5 gourdes

2 Gainfully employed respondents only.

Percent of households below the federal poverty level for a household of three, 1982.

Includes cash, food, and all other forms of aid, except medical, from private or
public agencies.






Table 7


Labor Market Outcomes
by Selected Predictor Variables


Predictor


Marital
Status


Age


Categories


Single
,Married
P-

28 or less
29 37 Yrs.
38 or More


N : Z
Unemployed


252
247


220
169
109


62.2
63.1
(n.s.)3

70.6
57.4
55.2
(.01)


S% On
'Wdelfare Aid


33.5
24.7
(.04)

31.6
32.0
20.0
(.06)


Number ,of
Kin, at
Arrival




Help from
Kin


Education
in Haiti


None
One or Two
Three or More
P<


Little or
None
Fair Amount
or More


126
288
85




294

205


None 137
Primary or
Less 210
Some Secondary
or More 151
p<


Last Monthly
Income in
Haiti None
70 Gourdes or
less
71 Gourdes or
More
p<

Knowledge of
English None
Some
Moderate/
Fluent


337


64.9


83 67.5

79 48.1
(.02)


219
183


69.7
62.9


96 46.0
(.01)


Occupational
Statusl


29.4
26.4
(.03)

28.5
29.0
25.6
(n.s.)


i
Monthly
IncomeZ


526
595
(.04)

563
577
536
(n.e.)


62.0
62.5
64.2
(n.s.)



65.9

60.4
(n.s.)


73.2

61.8

54.1
(.01)


33.3
28.4
25.4
(n.s.)



38.8

22.5
(n.s.)


- 32.9

31.3

23.0
(n.s.)


28.1
28.1
27.3
(n.s.)



27.8

28.0
(n.s.)


24.6

27.2

30.6
(.01)


591
547
554
(n.s.)



610

528
(n.s.)


546

543

590
(n.s.)


30.2

36.2

17.6
(.03)


30.9
30.1

23.3
(n.s.)


28.7

24.4

28.2
(ns.)


26.9
26.5

31.2
(.01)


530

527

671
(.001)


547
558

578
(n.s.)







Table 7 (continued)


Predictor


Categories


N Z Z'On
Unemployed Welfate Aid


i
* OdCuoatiddal
'Status


Knowledge
of U.S.


None
Some
Moderate/
Extensive
P4


260
215


66.5
60.8


24 37.6
(.02)


iTreiman Occupational


Prestige Scores, employed respondents only-


2Employed respondents only

3Not significant


x
Monthly
Income


31.4
28.8


8.3
(.06)


26.6
28.7

31.4
(n.s.)


553
552

641
(.05)







Table 8


Beliefs and Orientations



Variable Categories Males Females Total
Z % %
Religion Catholic 62.6 63.6 63.2
Protestant 32.2 33.1 32.8
Other/None 5.2 3.3 4.0

Frequency of Church
Attendance Weekly or Monthly 87.2 87.8 87.6

Satisfaction with Life
in the U.S. Satisfied/Very
Satisfied 40.2 34.8 37.0

Plans to Become
U.S. Citizen ies 69.0 67.3 68.0

Opportunities to Interact
with Anglos Few or None 74.2 92.4 85.9

There is Racial Discrimi-
nation in Economic Oppor-
tunities in U.S. Agree 54.9 46.6 50.0

American Way of Life
Weakens the Family Agree 53.6 52.0 52.6

In relation to Haitians,
Anglos Consider Themselves
Superior Agree 65.2 64.1 64.6

Black Americans Discri-
minate against
Haitians Yes 59.8 48.1 52.8

R Has Suffered Discrimination
by Black Americans Frequently 7.6 4.5 5.8
Occasionally 14.2 14.3 14.2
Never 78.2 81.2 80.0











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