TEXT: By MEREDITH SHINER | 1/13/10 12:31 PM EST
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is asking President Barack Obama to grant temporary protected status to Haitians illegally living in the United States — a move that would prevent people from being deported to the earthquake-devastated country.
In the wake of a 7.0 earthquake that has devastated Haiti — where Haitian President Rene Preval has reported thousands have died — the junior senator from New York urged Obama to move quickly.
“I am renewing my call to President Obama to grant these families temporary protected status so they do not have to live in fear of having to immediately return to a country ravaged with devastation,” Gillibrand said in a statement Wednesday morning.
In her letter to Obama, Gillibrand said temporary protected status is “needed because there is no way to safely return Haitian citizens to their country” and continued by outlining precedent for such action. “The United States granted TPS to Honduras and Nicaragua in 1999, following Hurricane Mitch, and to El Salvador in 2001, following several earthquakes.
“Haiti clearly meets the criteria for TPS designation, and extending it would be one way to help address this catastrophe, as well as alleviate additional burdens on American assistance workers,” the letter concluded.