Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Bipartisan Leaders Urge Expedited Haitian Family Reunification

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:           Steven Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), steveforester@aol.com, 786 877 6999 (English and Kreyol)

Bipartisan Leaders Urge Expedited Haitian Family Reunification

(BOSTON, June 5, 2014) — President Obama has received three new pleas for the Department of Homeland Security to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (FRPP) to speed entry into the United States of nearly 110,000 beneficiaries of DHS-approved family-based visa petitions who remain on wait lists of up to over 12 years in Haiti.

Democrat Alcee Hastings and Republican Mario Diaz-Balart co-sponsored a May 30 letter to the President signed by 63 members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging him to create this program “to save lives and accelerate Haiti’s recovery efforts.”  Signatories included Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, seven of her Foreign Affairs committee colleagues, Immigration subcommittee ranking member Zoe Lofgren and three subcommittee colleagues, the entire South Florida congressional delegation and many others.

The letter cites dire conditions including the ongoing deadly cholera outbreak and “what the U.S. Coast Guard knows all too well.  Desperate Haitians are increasingly abandoned and dying at sea as they resort to smugglers to cross perilous routes… including the notoriously treacherous 80-mile-wide Mona Passage strait toward Puerto Rico.”

“Creating a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program would not only save lives and reunite families, but empower individuals to actively assist in Haiti’s recovery.  Haitians remit about $2 billion annually, mostly from the diaspora in the United States, and Haitian parolees would be able to obtain work permits and send much-needed remittances back to Haiti.”

The letter urges the President “to put an end to the indefinite waiting lists as soon as possible” through the creation of this program.

In his May 31 South Florida Sun-Sentinel op-ed, “Create plan for Haitians equal to one for Cubans,” Archbishop Thomas G.Wenski of Miami also urged immediate creation of a Haitian FRPP.  Citing the years-long wait periods for Haitians as an example of a broken system, he noted not only conditions in Haiti but the direct precedent of the Cuban FRPP created by DHS in 2007 under which tens of thousands have entered the United States.

And on April 28, Congressional Black Caucus members U.S. Reps. Frederica Wilson, Yvette Clarke, Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee and John Conyers wrote President Obama urging immediate creation of a Haitian FRPP to “provide a lifeline to Haiti’s economy and reunite tens of thousands of Haitian families.”

They called its creation “well rooted in need, precedent, and … critical for Haiti’s economic development.  Creation of a Haitian FRPP, similar to that previously established for Cubans, would immediately boost Haiti’s economy, bolster the international effort to create sustainable growth in Haiti, and reunite tens of thousands of Haitian-Americans with family members already approved by [DHS].”

“We respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss this much-needed action,” they urged the President. “The creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program is an executive action that would have strong support from members of Congress, other elected officials throughout our nation, non-profit organizations, and millions of American citizens.  Congressional colleagues have joined us in sending letters to your Administration urging the creation of this program.”

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