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Our research on Haitians in Miami reveals the common stereotypes to be wrong in virtually every respect. Miami Haitians are not a significant drain on community resources. They did not come to the U.S. anticipating benefits from the welfare system. They are not uneducated nor are they unskilled. To the contrary, Miami Haitians have a tremendous potential for productively contributing to U.S. society. They are well educated by Haitian standards and many come with readily employable skills. Their motivations for leaving Haiti are inseparably both political and economic. They possess a sound work ethic and are striving to improve themselves. Economic problems are severe, yet they confront and surmount them with virtually no help from the state welfare system. They rely largely upon opportunities and resources within Miami's own Haitian community. Yet, they do not isolate themselves from the large community around them. They work with, buy from, and live in the same neighborhoods as Cubans, Anglos, and American Blacks. In spite of the many personal difficulties they have encountered since arriving in the U.S., they maintain a positive view both of themselves and their experiences in U.S. society. If given sufficient opportunities, they are likely to adapt quickly and succeed economically.
These findings stem from a recently completed survey of 129 Haitians enrolled in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes in Miami administered by the Haitian Adult Development Education Program (HADEP) of the Phelps Stokes Fund. The U.S. Department of Education funded the project to provide instruction in English communication and literacy skills, acculturation support and vocational training. The classes were free and open without restrictions to all Haitians. The Haitians neither paid nor received money to attend the classes. The classes were offered both during the day and evening and drew from all levels of the Haitian population in Miami. The survey was administered in June and July of this year and consisted of 146 questions in Creole on a broad range of subjects from background and experiences in Haiti to migration and employment history and perceptions of U.S. society.
Stepick, Alex; Brott, Tom; Clapp, Dan; Cook, Donna; and Megi, Jockesta, "Haitians in Miami: An Assessment of Their Background and Potential (Dialogue #12)" (1982). LACC Occasional papers series. Dialogues (1980 - 1994). 32.
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