Scope and arrangement
The Ira Gollobin Papers, 1972-2004, document Gollobin's involvement in multiple legal battles related to Haitian political asylum from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The collection is divided into seven series: Cases, Affidavits, Organizations, Clippings, General Correspondence, Speeches and Writings, and Subject Files. The collection consists largely of drafts and copies of legal documents, meeting summaries, public outreach material, administrative papers, and research material for refugee asylum. It covers the latter part of Gollobin's legal career, beginning with his tenure as a legal consultant for the National Council of Churches in 1974, and continuing through his advocacy and consultant work until 2004 on behalf of Haitian organizations.
The Haitian Refugee collection is arranged in seven series:
The series contains materials related to the various Haitian refugee cases Gollobin participated in (either as a litigator or strategist) throughout the seventies and eighties. Included in this series are memos, motions, briefs, orders, legal research and other documents relevant to case litigation. Asylum affidavits from Ketley Jean-Baptiste v. USA, Marie Pierre v. USA, and Marie Sannon v. USA are located in the Affidavits series. Among the most defining cases in the collection is Haitian Refugee Center v. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, in which Judge James Lawrence King opined that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) had violated due process when processing Haitian asylum requests; additionally, Judge King acknowledged the extent of human rights violations in Haiti, thus affirming that Haitians were justified in their asylum claims. Haitian Refugee Center v. Attorney General William S. Smith was also successful, as it won a permanent injunction reversing the INS's denial of asylum to over 5,000 Haitian refugees and prohibited their deportation from the U. S. to Haiti; federal legislation later granted class members permanent resident status.
The series also contains correspondence between members of the Haitian legal defense team who were located in New York, California, Washington, D. C., and Florida. The geographical diversity of the legal team made regular communication paramount to success, as the Cases series shows.
The series highlights the experiences of countless Haitians who successfully escaped the Duvalierist regime and sought asylum in the United States. These testimonies depict their often violent encounters with the Tonton Macoutes, the secret police in Haiti during the 1970s. Gollobin's organizational affiliates and colleagues, such as the Haitian Refugee Project and Guy Sansaricq, translated these affidavits. Readers should note: in order to use those with the most weight during trial, Gollobin classified affidavits as either "good", "ordinary" and "doubtful".
The series documents Gollobin's advocacy work with over twenty international and U. S. based groups committed to defending, financing, and publicizing information on Haitian refugees. The series contains meeting minutes, executive board correspondence, press releases, newsletters, public outreach fliers, petitions, pamphlets on human rights and legislative reports pertinent to Haitian refugees. The bulk of the papers are from the 1970s and 1980s, during Jean-Claude Duvalier's regime that sent thousands of Haitians to other shores seeking asylum from political repression. With his background in amnesty and asylum legal procedure, Gollobin was a priceless resource to small grassroots organizations that worked on behalf of Haitian refugees, such as the Haitian Refugee Center, founded by the late Gerard Jean-Juste in Florida, The power of grassroots organizing is evident in this series. Though many of the organizations are now defunct, the files on organizations such as the Haitian Worker's Union and the Rockland Coalition on Haitian Concerns reveal that many of these groups worked directly out of their homes making fliers for demonstrations or writing up declarations directed towards the U. S. government. Gollobin's extensive leftist and progressive network affiliations provided much needed infrastructure and financial support to many of these small groups. In 1981, to facilitate this work, Haitian community leaders, religious groups, and activists, together with Gollobin founded the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) as an umbrella group to spearhead and more effectively coordinate efforts on behalf of Haitian refugees. A leading advocate for Haitian refugee rights in the U. S. and, for a brief period (early 2000s), in Haiti, NCHR is well represented in the collection.
Another organization featured prominently in this series is the Church World Service/National Council of Churches (CWS/NCC). The CWS/NCC is an international organization committed to promoting world peace, creating sustainable grassroots organizations in developing countries, and resettling refugees across the globe. As their legal counsel, Gollobin testified on the behalf of Haitian refugees, prepared legal briefs in response to INS asylum regulations, and cultivated relationships with CSW/NCC administrators to ameliorate conditions for Haitian refugees. Gollobin's work with Sue.
Sullivan of the Washington Office of Haitian Refugee Concerns of the National Council of Churches to create the Haitian Refugee Project is also represented in this series. The Rescue Committee for Haitian Refugees was another Gollobin orchestrated union for which there are files. It was a joint operation between the American Committee for Protection of the Foreign Born (ACPFB) and the Haitian Fathers. Despite the fact that the former was founded and run by communists, Gollobin was a master at pulling together coalitions of Haitian activists, liberal church groups and progressive lawyers to prize a measure of justice for Haitian refugees.
The series consists of newspaper and magazine clippings pertaining to Haiti and Haitian immigration from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Gollobin relied for coverage on news agencies within the U. S. such as the Miami Herald, The New York Times, and the Haitian-American Haiti-Observateur alongside Haitian periodicals such as Le Petit Samedi Soir. Organizational affiliates such as Raymond Joseph (Haiti-Observateur) and Guy Sansaricq (Diocese of Brooklyn) translated the Haitian-Kreyol/ French language press for Gollobin.
The series contains incoming and outgoing letters and is organized chronologically; it covers the years from 1972-1984 and undated. The series contains two subseries: Gollobin Correspondence and Letters of Support. The Gollobin subseries include correspondence between Haitian-American professionals and potential witnesses, as well as thank-you notes and general correspondence between Gollobin and supporters of the Haitian asylum cause. Also included in the series is a folder containing letters from the Sisters of Libretto Academy, a group of nuns with whom Gollobin sustained contact during his involvement with Haitian refugees. The Sisters were helping detained refugees in El Paso, Texas, and would regularly notify Gollobin about matters relating to the detainees' well-being as well as local vigils and demonstrations. Gollobin kept copies of his outgoing correspondence. These outgoing letters are integrated into the chronological sections of the Gollobin Correspondence subseries. The Letters of Support subseries contains letters written by religious, civic and labor leaders as well as members of the general public to government officials in support of Haitian asylum, right to work authorization and freedom from imprisonment.
Correspondence between legal counsel and members of the judiciary is included in the CASES series. Correspondence generated as part of Gollobin's duties on behalf of the organizations that employed him or organizations of which he was a member is contained in the Organizations series.
The series consists of Gollobin's editorial pieces, essay drafts, and handwritten notes. The editorial pieces are the culmination of his legal and grassroots organizing for a wider, public/ press audience. The essay drafts deal with topics ranging from policy-oriented strategizing to task force research findings created with the explicit purpose of wide readership among policy makers and the general public.
The series includes governmental and academic reports on Haitian immigration, human rights abuses, and general asylum protocol, among others. There are chapters from books documenting the plight of Haitian refugees once they enter the United States, publications from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as well as U. S. government documents on refugee policy including acts, bills and other legislative materials. Also included in the series is a folder on Turenne Deville, a Haitian man who committed suicide in jail upon learning of his imminent deportation.