Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haiti: Expedite visas for family members

Boston Globe Editorial

Two days after a calamitous earthquake erupted in Haiti in January, President Obama rightly called it “one of those moments that call out for America’s leadership.’’ Since then the United States has done many things to help Haitians, delivering food, medical assistance, and temporary shelter to the island. Sad to say, however, the administration has yet to do one thing that could help significantly: allow the 55,000 Haitians who have already been approved for immigrant visas to join family members here in the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is empowered to grant this relief simply by ordering it, with no act of Congress needed. Congressional quotas created the current backlog of approved visa recipients; children and spouses of legal residents have to wait four years, while siblings of US citizens must wait 11 years. These Haitians approved for entry to the US will come here eventually. If they are enabled to come now, and if they are permitted to work here legally, the money they remit to Haiti will serve as an efficient form of foreign aid, greatly accelerating the island’s economic recovery.

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