US Senator Dick Lugar
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Dick Lugar is calling on the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to grant Temporary Protective Status for 18 months to Haitian immigrants, in part, so they can send funds home to help their country.
The devastating earthquake and ongoing aftershocks in Haiti since January 12 represent one of the most significant natural disasters to strike the Western Hemisphere in recent memory. The gravity of the situation was explained to me in detail during a conversation I had yesterday with Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who is leading the U.S. government response, Lugar said.
More than 3 million people have been directly affected and estimates reported by the Red Cross suggest that the number of casualties may reach 50,000 or more. The challenges facing Haiti and all those who stand with her are extraordinary, but the American people’s willingness to lend a helping hand remains unwavering. Many Hoosiers have been engaged in humanitarian work in Haiti, among themthe my fellow parishioners of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.
“Confronted by sucha great crisis, I call on the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to grant Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Haitians for 18 months, at which time it should be reviewed,” Lugar said. TPS is granted to selected immigrants who cannot safely return to their native countries due to natural disasters, conflict or other emergencies. “It is in the foreign policy interest of the United States and a humanitarian imperative of the highest order to have all people of Haitian descent in a position to contribute towards the recovery of this island nation,” Lugar said.
Lugar has also asked the U.S. State Department to allow visa parole for Haitian children that are in the midst of adoption proceedings with American parents. This would allow the children to come to the U.S. while their adoptions are still in process. Several Hoosiers families contacted Lugar’s office about their pending adoptions from Haiti.
Additionally, Lugar has been working with the Milroy and St. Lukes Methodist Churches who have a joint mission team in Fondwa, Haiti. Lugar is a long-time St. Luke’s parishioner.
Lugar also made a statement yesterday and pledged to work closely with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and USAID to speed recovery efforts in Haiti (http://lugar.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=321489).
USAID recommends that the most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, Mercy Corps and Project Hope that are conducting relief operations.