DATE: January 15, 2010
As the extent of the death, homelessness and devastation in Haiti becomes more evident by the hour, there’s one small step that President Barack Obama should take to maximize the ability of Haitians here to help their relatives at home.
The administration announced Wednesday that it has temporarily halted the deportation of Haitians who are here illegally. The logical next step is to allow them to work legally until they are sent home. Obama could do that with the stroke of a pen, by extending Temporary Protected Status to the 30,000 Haitians currently under deportation orders. He should pick up his pen.
Aid for the uncounted victims of Wednesday’s earthquake is flooding into Haiti from the United States and around the world. As always, compassionate Americans are rising to the occasion. But in the months ahead, the world’s attention will wander, and the flow of aid will ebb. When that happens, money that Haitians here send to relatives on the island will be the difference between life and death for some. Allowing those awaiting deportation to work would increase that lifesaving support – at no cost to American taxpayers.
TPS is regularly granted for people from countries that are temporarily unsafe. Convicted criminals aren’t eligible. And it doesn’t allow anyone to stay here permanently. With bodies lining the streets, homes and hospitals in rubble, and food and water in short supply, Haitians who could work here and support their loved ones back home should be allowed to do it.
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