Steve Forester, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, firstname.lastname@example.org, 786-877-6999 (English, Haitian Creole)
73 Haitian American Diaspora Groups and Leaders Urge President Obama to Create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program
(Miami, August 18, 2014)—In an unprecedented demonstration of unity and urgency, Haitian American organizations and leaders from across the nation and political spectrum urged President Obama “to instruct the Department of Homeland Security to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP) now to save lives and speed Haiti’s recovery.” Forty-three (43) diaspora groups and 30 other diaspora political, religious, professional and social leaders wrote urging the President to finally implement this long-proposed and “easy-to-implement humanitarian and recovery measure.”
“DHS as of November 1, 2013 had approved family-based immigrant visa petitions for 109,489 Haitians who remain on wait lists of up to more than 12 years in Haiti, where many may have died and all are at risk given cholera and other conditions,” they write. Citing broad, bipartisan and national support among U.S. political, editorial and other leaders for creating a Haitian FRPP to expedite their entry, the precedent for doing so, horrifying migrant deaths at sea, and “the inability of Congress to pass immigration legislation [which] makes this long-urged and imperative action clearly appropriate,” they note the proposed program’s significant foreign policy and other merits:
“Reuniting our families would also speed Haiti’s recovery: after paying the U.S. Treasury significant fees applying for work permits, employed parolees would begin and continue into the indefinite future sending to loved ones in Haiti crucially-needed remittances, which as you know are the most effective form of personal support; Haitians remit about $2 billion annually, mostly from the diaspora in the United States.
“Both Cubans and Haitians risk their lives in Caribbean waters, and Haiti’s recovery is in our national and border security interests given its proximity to our shores and our nation’s significant Haitian American population. Right in terms of foreign policy, humanity and fairness, an HFRPP would also relieve at least some of the despair which leads people to put their lives into the hands of smugglers. Nor would anyone get a “green card” any sooner – there would be no “line jumping” – but they could wait for them in safety, like their Cuban counterparts, not in still-suffering Haiti.”
Recently 63 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote President Obama urging creation of this program, as did five leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus including U.S. Representatives Frederica Wilson and Yvette Clarke. Replying to the latter letter on July 28, Deputy DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote, “We have taken your request for the creation of a family reunification parole program for Haitians under advisement and are actively reviewing this proposal.” Nearly five years after Haiti’s earthquake, the community urges the President to have DHS implement this program now.
The letter concludes, “Mr. President, for the excellent reasons urged in broad and bipartisan fashion since the 2010 earthquake, underscored by the increasing loss of life at sea and your appropriate pledge to act administratively if necessary given congressional inaction, we strongly and most respectfully urge you to instruct DHS to save lives and help Haiti recover by finally now creating a Haitian FRPP.”
Among the letter’s 43 endorsing organizations are the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON), the National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians (NOAH), the Haitian Diaspora Federation (HDF), the National Association of Haitian Professionals (NAHP), the Haitian American Professionals Coalition (HAPC), the Chicago-based Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti; the New Jersey-based organizations Haitian American Leadership Council, Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast, and the International Coalition for Haiti; three Haitian American Lawyers Associations (Florida, New York, and New Jersey); the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida (HACCOF), the Center for Haitian Studies (CHS), Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition (HAGC), and Sant-la, all based in South Florida, the Boston-based Association of Haitian Women, Inc. (AFAB) and many other groups nationwide.
Endorsing political leaders include Massachusetts State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, New York City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, Florida State Representative Daphne Campbell, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime, City of North Miami Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime, and South Toms River (NJ) Mayor Joseph Makhandal Champagne, among many other current and former officials.
Endorsing religious leaders include Brooklyn’s Bishop Guy Sansaricq and Pastor Mullery Jean-Pierre; Miami’s Father Reginald Jean-Mary, Venerable Canon Reverend Fritz Bazin, and Monsignor Jean Pierre; and Boston’s Rev. Dieufort Jean Fleurissaint, Rev. Pierre-Louis Zephir, and Pastor Raphael Germain, Director of the Missionary Association of Haitian Christians. Other prominent endorsers include renowned author Edwidge Danticat, Chicago-based Judge Lionel Jean Baptiste, two Florida SEIU labor union entities, the Brooklyn-based Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), and Miami-based Americans for Immigrant Justice (AIJ) and Catholic Charities Legal Services (CCLS).
The letter is being released by endorsers in various parts of the United States, including but not limited to NOAH, NHAEON, the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti, FANM and others.
Visit IJDH’s site to learn more about Haitian Family Reunification.