Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Massachusetts’ State Legislators Urge DHS Secretary Napolitano to Create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (Massachusetts State Legislature and Black and Latino Legislative Caucus Representatives)

This is an eloquent letter to DHS Secretary Napolitano, urging establishment of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program to save lives and help Haiti recover, from Massachusetts State Legislature and Black and Latino Legislative Caucus members Representatives Linda Dorcena Forry, Cheryl Coakley-Rivera, Gloria Fox, Russell Holmes, Benjamin Swan, Marcos Devers, Carlos Henriquez, Jeffrey Sanchez and Sonia Chang-Diaz.

The legislators write, “As representatives of the state with the third largest population of Haitians and Haitian Americans, we are deeply concerned about the precarious status of many Haitian children, elders and families as they wait in Haiti to be reunited with their families in the United States. As you know, for many, the conditions in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of 2010 remain unstable and even dangerous. Establishing a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP), modeled after the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, would alleviate this crisis by simply allowing Haitians already approved for visas to wait for them in the United States with their families rather than in Haiti.”

They cite the proposed program’s “economic benefits,” including “sending more remittances home to Haiti to foster economic development with greater speed,” and note Haiti’s historic ties to the United States and Commonwealth.

Wednesday’s letter joins two other similarly excellent ones to Secretary Napolitano from Massachusetts leaders urging this same relief.

On September 22, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick wrote Secretary Napolitano urging this relief. And last week, on October 25, United States Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, joined by U. S. Representatives Michael Capuano, Barney Frank, James McGovern, Edward Markey, John Olver, and Stephen Lynch, all of Massachusetts, did so as well. (Senator Kerry serves as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. His House counterpart, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, wrote Secretary Napolitano urging this relief on March 8, 2010, joined by seven other leading House members of both parties.)

These three letters join strong calls for the Obama Administration to implement this relief from the editorial boards of the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, San Antonio Express News, Miami Herald, Newsday, Star-Ledger, and Palm Beach Post, in thirteen separate editorials; from Philadelphia’s City Council, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the City of North Miami in resolutions; from six U.S. Senators in a separate 2011 letter; from Haitian-American leaders and editorial writers; and in a June 2011 Center for Global Development paper urging DHS to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program and to start by promptly paroling the most vulnerable, as suggested for example in last week’s letter to Secretary Napolitano from Massachusetts’ Senators Kerry and Brown and their House colleagues.

The White House and Secretary Napolitano have so far ignored these urgent calls, while children and other close relatives, already approved by DHS to join their families here, continue on a 4 to 11 year wait list in Haiti, where many may not survive given post-quake conditions of devastation, cholera and danger. May today’s letter not fall on deaf ears.

Click HERE to Download Original letter (PDF version)
Click HERE to Read letter from Massachusetts’ congressional leaders
Click HERE to Read letter from Governor Patrick


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