40th Lawyer of the Americas Banquet

On March 24th, Inter-American Law Review hosted our 40th Annual Lawyer of the Americas honoring Steve Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.  

Steve Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), has advocated for Haitian immigrant rights since 1979, beginning as an attorney at Miami’s since-defunct Haitian Refugee Center (1979-1985, 1992-1995), led during its early dynamic years by Father Gerard Jean-Juste.  He initiated efforts for introduction and passage of the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998 (HRIFA), under which 20,000 Haitians became legal permanent residents, and a 2010-October 2015 effort which resulted in creation of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRP), under which 8,300 Haitians more expeditiously joined their petitioning families in the United States, among other initiatives.  He solicited dozens of editorials, congressional letters, and other items urging these and related goals, including Haiti’s designation for and retention of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  In 2021-2022, he publicized DHS flights which expelled over 26,000 Haitian men, women, and children, primarily under Title 42 after apprehension at our Mexico border, and he spearheaded efforts for an October 9, 2022 rally outside the White House which urged the administration to stop propping up Haiti’s corrupt and illegitimate regime.  Recognition for his legal and advocacy service to the Haitian community includes a 2022 award from the Haitian American Democratic Club of Miami-Dade County, Stetson University Law School’s Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award (2000), and an article profiling his career in Spring 1994’s Boston University Public Interest Law Journal.  He currently actively disseminates information about the recently-created “Cuban Haitian Nicaraguan Venezuelan” (CHNV) parole program and coordinates with colleagues to bring related implementation issues to DHS officials’ attention.