Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

President Obama Should Support Haitian Family Reunification

A major article describes the efforts to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP), which would expedite the entry into the US of persons DHS has already approved but who remain on years-long wait lists. The White House has taken no action despite overwhelming support. Such a program, similar to an ongoing program for Cubans, would save lives and generate remittances to help Haiti recover.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Advocates, Florida delegation push immigration program to help rebuild Haiti

Chris Adams, McClatchy DC
September 16, 2014

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives – including those from South Florida – is pushing the Obama administration to create an immigration program for Haitians that would accelerate the flow of immigrants from that country and help it recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake.

WORLD NEWS QUAKE-3YEARS 5 MI

The effort has been underway for four years, though, and there’s little public indication whether the White House will or won’t ultimately back it. Advocates say now would be a perfect time to strike, given the White House’s recent decision to postpone any major immigration actions until after the midterm elections.

“This is one of the programs where it makes absolutely no sense not to move forward,” said Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat.

Not acting now, he added, is causing needless harm. “Inevitably, they will be here – and we’re prolonging the inevitable to the detriment of our community,” he said. “It’s bad policy and bad politics.”

The advocates haven’t let up their pressure, despite the four years since the January 2010 quake – and despite longstanding feelings that the Haitian community’s concerns are often overlooked in the nation’s ongoing political debates over immigration.

Two weeks ago, the African American Baptist Mission Collaboration weighed in, imploring the White House to create what would be known as a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program as “a critical step to addressing an incredible hardship.”

“It is the right thing to do for Haiti,” wrote leaders of the organization, which was formed to help Haiti rebuild after the quake. “It is the right thing to do for the United States.”

Before that, the NAACP, the Miami-Dade County Commission, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the American Bar Association, a range of Haitian American and other civil rights groups, and dozens of Republican and Democratic lawmakers all prodded the White House and the departments that oversee immigration issues to create the program.

“We have had a number of conversations with some White House officials, and they have been very responsive,” said Hilary Shelton, Washington bureau director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “We didn’t get an indication they were opposed to it, but were looking for ways to get it through.”

The program is similar, advocates say, to a family reunification program for Cubans, created in 2007.

Eight U.S. representatives from South Florida joined in a letter to President Barack Obama in May pushing for the program. In addition to Garcia, that included Democrats Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson, as well as Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. It concluded: “Your administration can take immediate steps to save and improve lives by allowing Haitians who have already been approved to join their families in the United States.”

“We have kept high-level administration officials informed of all the support as it has developed since January 2010, including all of the recent letters, but have never been given a reason for the inaction,” said Steven Forester, immigration policy coordinator for the nonprofit Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.

 

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