Neocon insider Elliott Abrams, JPod's brother-in-law and the Bush Administration's top man on Middle East policy (which was a pretty hilarious job for a man who had spent the 1990s campaigning against intermarriage), explains in the Washington Post that we should let in more Haitians.
There's a fundamental tradeoff, however:
- Either, we let in Haiti's educated minority, but that just makes Haiti dumber, which isn't good for Haiti. And there isn't even much of an educated class left in Haiti after decades of brain drain by emigation. Wikipedia's article on Papa Doc says:
His rule, based on a purged military, a rural milita and the use of personality cult and vodoo, resulted in a brain drain from which the country has not recovered. ... Educated professionals fled Haiti in droves for New York City, Miami, French-speaking Montreal, Paris, and several French-speaking African countries, exacerbating an already serious lack of doctors and teachers. Some of the highly skilled professionals joined the ranks of several UN agencies to work in development in newly-independent nations such as Ivory Coast, and Congo. The country has never recovered from this brain drain.
- Or, we admit uneducated Haitian peasants who can't earn much money in the U.S. and have a very high birth rate.
Which one will it be?
By the way, I hadn't brought this up before, but if the press is going to promote taking in lots more Haitians, we should at least mention something that Haitians brought us in the past:
AIDS Virus Traveled to Haiti, Then U.S., Study Says Amitabh Avasthi for National Geographic NewsOctober 29, 2007
HIV went directly from Africa to Haiti, then spread to the United States and much of the rest of the world beginning around 1969, suggests an international team of researchers.
The findings settle a key debate on the history and transmission route of the deadly virus, the scientists say.
Even before HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS, Haiti's role in the disease epidemic had been hotly debated.
When AIDS was officially recognized in 1981 in the U.S., for instance, the unusually high prevalence of the disease in Haitian immigrants fueled speculation that the Caribbean island was the source of the mysterious illness.
Another theory held that the AIDS epidemic spread from the U.S. in the mid-1970s after Haiti became a popular destination for sex tourism.
Scientists led by Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, Tucson, tried to solve the puzzle by tracing back the family history of the virus subtype blamed for the epidemic in North America.
The findings suggest that native Haitians carried the disease back to their island from Africa soon after the virus's emergence there. (Related: "AIDS Origin Traced to Chimp Group in Cameroon" [May 25, 2006].)
The new study appears online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
HIV is commonly transmitted through tainted blood transfusions, dirty needles, and unprotected sex. Infections often lead to a life-threatening condition in which the body's immune defenses are systematically disabled.
Two species of HIV can infect humans–HIV-1 and HIV-2. The former is more virulent, more easily transmitted, and accounts for the lion's share of global HIV infections. HIV-2 is less infectious and is largely confined to parts of Western Africa.
Based on differences in one of the nine genes that make up the virus, HIV-1 is placed in three major groups. The most prevalent, Group M, has eight geographically distinct subtypes.
Worobey and his colleagues looked at subtype B. Though it is found mainly in North America and Europe, the strain is present in the most number of countries.
The researchers analyzed tissue samples from five Haitian AIDS patients collected in 1982 and 1983. All five had then recently immigrated to the U.S. and were among the first recognized victims of AIDS.
A family tree constructed from the HIV-1 genes of the five Haitians and subtype B gene sequences from 19 other countries place the Haitian virus at the root of all branches.
"This is strong evidence that HIV-1 subtype B arrived and began spreading in Haiti before it did elsewhere," Worobey said.
It is generally thought that the virus arrived with Haitian professionals returning from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) following a wave of nationalism there in the 1960s.
Using advanced statistical techniques, Worobey and his colleagues estimated that the subtype B strain reached Haiti sometime around 1966 and the United States around 1969.
"Until AIDS was initially recognized in 1981, the virus was cryptically [hiddenly] circulating in a sophisticated medical environment for the better part of 12 years," Worobey said....