Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Press Release: Massachusetts’ State Black and Latino Legislative Caucus Urges DHS Secretary Napolitano to Create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program to Save Lives and Help Haiti Recover (IJDH)


Steven Forester, Immi­gra­tion Pol­icy Coor­di­na­tor, Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti, 786–877‑6999, (U.S.)

Massachusetts’ State Black and Latino Legislative Caucus Urges DHS Secretary Napolitano to Create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program to Save Lives and Help Haiti Recover

(Boston, November 4, 2011) – On Wednesday, U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity Sec­re­tary Janet Napoli­tano was once again urged by Massachusetts leaders to promptly parole into the United States Haitian beneficiaries of approved family-based visa petitions, to “mirror” the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program which promptly paroles such beneficiaries and to help Haiti recover from last year’s earthquake by generating significant remittances.

The eloquent letter is signed by the entire Black and Latino Legislative Caucus of the Massachusetts State Legislature: State 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 recent letters 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.

As of November 1, 2010, the United States had approved family-based immi­grant visa peti­tions for 105,000 ben­e­fi­cia­ries who nev­er­the­less remain on a wait list of four to eleven years in Haiti, where many may not sur­vive.  In con­trast, over 30,000 approved Cuban ben­e­fi­cia­ries have been paroled into the United States since 2009 alone under the Cuban FRPP, which the Massachusetts leaders urge DHS Secretary Napolitano to “mirror.”

In urg­ing this action as a low-cost way to help Haiti recover, the authors of “Migra­tion as a Tool for Dis­as­ter Recov­ery: A Case Study on U.S. Pol­icy Options for Post-Earthquake Haiti,” Center for Global Devel­op­ment, June 2011, note:

  • Rather than wait­ing 4 to 11 years for a visa in Haiti, ben­e­fi­cia­ries could be paroled into the United States where they can be reunited with fam­ily and have employ­ment authorization.
  • The pro­posal has merit not only for the human­i­tar­ian pur­pose it would serve but also to enable Haitians to send more remit­tances home and fos­ter eco­nomic devel­op­ment with greater speed.
  • Insti­tut­ing a fam­ily reuni­fi­ca­tion parole pro­gram for Haitians is sim­pler than it may appear, since it requires no con­gres­sional action.
  • The Cuban program’s ratio­nale of sav­ing lives at sea and pro­vid­ing for orderly migra­tion applies with equal force to Haiti.
  • No one would get a “green card” any sooner — like the Cubans, they’d just be able to wait for them here w/their fam­i­lies rather than in Haiti.

In a related development, today a resolution urging the White House and DHS to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program was introduced by New York City Council Members Mathieu Eugene and Daniel Dromm before the New York City Council.

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.

Since Haiti’s Jan­u­ary 12, 2010 earth­quake, IJDH has led national efforts to per­suade the White House to cre­ate a Hait­ian FRPP.  Grass­roots efforts are under­way in areas includ­ing Florida, New York, and Massachusetts, where a ded­i­cated team of vol­un­teers helped secure yesterday’s letter, which the Hait­ian Amer­i­can com­mu­nity and its sup­port­ers strongly wel­come and applaud.

(The letters from Massachusetts’ congressional leaders and Governor Patrick may be found at and at

At the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti (IJDH), we fight for the human rights of Haiti’s poor in court, on the streets, and wher­ever deci­sions about Haitians’ rights are made. We rep­re­sent vic­tims of injus­tice, includ­ing earth­quake vic­tims, vic­tims of gender-based vio­lence, and the unjustly impris­oned. Together with our Hait­ian affil­i­ate, the Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux (BAI), we have six­teen years of demon­strated suc­cess enforc­ing Haitians’ human rights in Haiti and abroad. Visit Fol­low @IJDH on Twitter.


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