January 20th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

What should happen to hundreds of thousands of Haitian orphans?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

At the end of the day, there will be an overwhelming number of orphans in Haiti in the aftermath of last week's earthquake.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/20/art.haiti.orphan.jpg caption="A woman holds an orphaned infant at a Port-au-Prince orphanage."]
Even before the deadly quake, it was estimated Haiti - one of the world's poorest countries - had 380,000 orphans; children who have lost one or both parents.

Some had lost their mothers or fathers in previous disasters, like deadly storms and hurricanes. Others were abandoned during Haiti's political turmoil.

And aid groups estimate the number could climb well up into the hundreds of thousands, with UNICEF warning the scale of the crisis has reached "unbearable proportions."

Many countries are trying to help pick up the pieces. The U.S. has announced a humanitarian policy that will allow some Haitian orphans into the country temporarily. Dozens of these children have already arrived in Pittsburgh.

The government is also trying to speed up hundreds of Haitian adoptions that were already in progress; and the Catholic Church is trying to bring thousands of these kids into the U.S. permanently.

Other children are being adopted by Dutch families - or brought to group homes in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

But some experts worry that some children may be shipped overseas or adopted before it's clear whether they still have extended family members alive in Haiti. There's a concern that this time of chaos could lead to fraud, abuse and trafficking of children.

Although the tragedies and heartbreak coming out of Haiti have no limits - it seems entirely possible that the youngest and the most vulnerable in that society are among the hardest hit.

Here’s my question to you: What should happen to the hundreds of thousands of Haitian orphans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Haiti earthquake
January 19th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Should U.S. let Haitians in as refugees?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The United States is telling millions of Haitians - made homeless by last week's earthquake - not to try to come here.

Homeland Security and the Defense Department say they're taking strict actions to avoid a mass exodus from Haiti... with concerns that it could lead to a refugee crisis in places like Miami or deaths at sea.

A U.S. Air Force cargo plane flies for hours over Haiti daily... broadcasting a message from Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. that things will be even worse if they attempt the trip… and that any refugees will be sent right back to Haiti.

Officials plan to take any boats with Haitians caught at sea to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - and they're clearing out a federal jail in Miami to make room for Haitians who might make it here.

It doesn't appear that Haitians have been trying to flee the island by boat, yet... but officials worry that as conditions on the ground get worse, the chances of an exodus could go up.

Since the earthquake, the U.S. has only allowed 23 Haitians into the country to get medical help on humanitarian grounds... as well as allowing some Haitian orphans to come here temporarily.

The U.S. says it will give temporary amnesty for 18 months to Haitians who were in the country illegally before the earthquake. But the so-called "temporary protected status" - which could affect as many as 200,000 Haitians in the U.S. - won't apply to those who try to get into the country going forward.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. bend immigration rules and let Haitians into the country as refugees?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Haiti earthquake • Immigration
January 15th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Why can't Haiti catch a break?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's an old saying that goes "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all." It's an expression that certainly seems to apply to the people of Haiti, as theirs is a long history of things going from bad to worse.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/15/art.earthquake2.jpg caption="A girl rests at a makeshift outdoor recovery ward outside the morgue and main hospital in Port-au-Prince."]
If it's not the poverty - the majority of Haitians make less than one dollar a day, and 75-percent of them are unemployed - it's political repression.

The nearly 30-year regime of the Duvalier family, beginning in the late 1950s, is seen as one of the most corrupt and repressive in modern history. Their personal militia killed tens of thousands of Haitians and tortured and raped countless others.

The Haitians also have a checkered history that includes slavery, debt, revolution, exploitation.

And when those poor people aren't trying to survive their own government and economy, Mother Nature periodically slams them with hurricanes, earthquakes, you name it... Yet for some reason the Haitians remain for the most part a peaceful, optimistic, even good-natured people.

We could all take a lesson from them. Most of the people in Haiti will survive, and the country will manage to go on in some form. The problem is the people there never seem to be able to enjoy a run of good fortune: An improving economy that elevates their standing of living, honest government that makes a legitimate effort to provide for the general welfare.

Things like education, infrastructure, shelter, medical care, etc. seem to be forever beyond the country's grasp.

Here’s my question to you: Why can't a country like Haiti catch a break?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Haiti earthquake
January 15th, 2010
04:00 PM ET

How has technology helped following Haiti quake?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In the hours and days following the disastrous earthquake in Haiti, technology is proving that the world is smaller than ever.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/15/art.earthquake1.jpg caption="Haitians pass in front of the multi-story St. Gerard School that collapsed, leaving what is feared to be dozens trapped or killed under the rubble in Port-au-Prince."]
For starters - some of the first pictures in the aftermath of the earthquake came from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. When there was no video yet and traditional media weren't able to broadcast... it was newer technologies that showed the world how bad things were in Haiti... and how quickly help was needed.

And, it's not just about the change in delivering information. Technology is also a key factor in relief aid. So far - it's estimated Americans pledged more than $8 million via text message to the Red Cross alone... plus millions to other charities.

The Red Cross mobilized giving efforts through social networking sites... and so far hundreds of thousands of people have donated $10 each via texts to the Red Cross. It's quick and easy... and the charge appears on the user's cell phone bill.

The text message donations for Haiti also dwarf the amounts raised after Hurricane Katrina and the Indian ocean tsunami.

Of course, this is only part of a larger flow of money being donated to Haiti... but it's significant because relief agencies are reaching young people, typically the hardest to track down... and who might not have traditionally given. Some suggest texting has "opened up a whole new world for philanthropy."

Here’s my question to you: How has technology made the world smaller following a disaster like the Haiti quake?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Haiti earthquake
January 13th, 2010
01:45 PM ET

Should U.S. lead international response to Haiti earthquake?


Haitians pass destroyed buildings in Port-au-Prince. (PHOTO CREDIT: THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Haiti facing a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions - the U.S. is in the crosshairs of a massive relief effort.

President Obama says the U.S. government will lead a "swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives" following the deadly earthquake.

He says the U.S. has already mobilized military flights over the country to assess the damage... and that civilian disaster assistance teams are on their way.

The president points to the "heart-wrenching" images from Haiti and adds that the tragedy "seems especially cruel and incomprehensible" in a country that's already accustomed to hardships.

Mr. Obama says Haiti will have the unwavering support of the U.S.; although he hasn't pledged a specific amount of aid. Officials say they're still trying to figure out what is needed. Meanwhile the president is also calling on Americans to help and to donate money. He says the Haitians are our neighbors; and that Americans need to be there for them "in their hour of need."

Of course it's not just the U.S. helping here. Aid agencies and governments from around the world are springing into action - mobilizing search and rescue teams and sending money, aid and food.

The scope of the death and destruction isn't known yet - but it's clear that Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, has been devastated. Some officials fear the death toll could reach 500,000 - with millions of others displaced.

Haiti needs a lot of help.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. lead the international response to the Haiti earthquake?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Global matters • Haiti earthquake