Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Miami Archbishop Supports Haitian Family Reunification

Archbishop of Miami Thomas G.Wenski wrote an excellent op-ed urging that DHS immediately create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, a course strongly urged in the bipartisan May 30 letter to the President by 63 Congresspersons including ranking Foreign Affairs committee and Immigration subcommittee members, ten of their committee colleagues and the members of the South Florida delegation.

Create plan for Haitians equal to one for Cubans

Thomas Wenski, Sun Sentinel
May 31, 2014

One example of how our present immigration system is broken are the numbers of people who have been already approved to immigrate legally to the United States but who languish waiting approval to travel to the U.S. Some are told they may have to wait 12 years for their number to be called.

Right now the Department of Homeland Security has approved family-based immigrant visa petitions for more than 110,000 Haitians. Traditionally, U.S.- immigration policy has promoted family reunification — and family members who are U.S. citizens or legal residents have petitioned for these relations to join them in the United States as provided for by the law. However, they are — because of the inadequacies of the present system — put on seemingly interminable wait lists.

This could be fixed with President Obama’s storied phone and pen. The Department of Homeland Security could easily create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program similar to the one that already exists for Cubans since 2007. Haiti continues to struggle on many fronts: It still is faced with the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, an ongoing cholera epidemic and a chaotic political situation due to failure to organize parliamentary elections. Given these factors, it makes more sense — and it is certainly a safer option – for these people who one day will immigrate from Haiti to the U.S. to come sooner rather than later.

Such a parole program wouldn’t give any one a green card any sooner than the date they have already been given. But parole into the U.S. — with an approved work permit — would allow them to reunite with their families now even as they wait for their turn to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent U.S. resident.

Such an action on the part of the administration would certainly also eliminate the perverse incentive to illegal entry that these excessively long wait lists have created. But more importantly, helping to unite families rather than keeping them divided will help these families to integrate more speedily and successfully into American society. A Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program is simply the right thing to do.

Most Rev. Thomas G. Wenski is Archibishop of Miami.

 

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