JRS, others urge U.S. grant protection to Haiti

Representatives of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Immigration Forum, the Episcopal Church, members of Refugee Council USA, representatives from the Florida and New York

A Jordanian UN peacekeeper plays with a child during mealtime at the National School. (UN photo)

A Jordanian UN peacekeeper plays with a child during mealtime at the National School. (UN photo)

Haitian-American communities, faith leaders, and several Haitian students slated for deportation will be in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 13, to meet with representatives of the Administration, and members of Congress, to advise them of the critical need for Temporary Protected Status for Haitians.

In December 2008, the United States began forcibly deporting 30,000 Haitians back to their country, a country ravaged by consecutive natural disasters last September. The two hurricanes and two tropical storms that hit Haiti in devastating succession during harvest season last year killed nearly 1,000 people and left 800,000 of the country’s residents in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. The storms destroyed at least $180 million in crops, exacerbating an existing food shortage. Forcing 30,000 Haitian nationals back to their reeling homeland under these circumstances is irresponsible and inhumane.

The Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress can offer a humanitarian helping hand by granting Temporary Protected Status to the Haitians, allowing them an opportunity to stay temporarily on our shores as they await the moment when their nation can accept their safe return. Congress established TPS to grant safety to foreign nationals in just such circumstances as those currently facing Haiti.

Deporting 30,000 people to Haiti under the current circumstances would only act to further aggravate the current humanitarian crisis and increase the stress on Haiti’s already weak economy. The destabilizing effects will be yet another blow to an already struggling democracy. This is a matter of life and death for Haitians.

Schedule of Meetings Wednesday, May 13, 2009
9 a.m. Meeting with Esther Olavarrio Cruz, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy (DHS) and Carlos P. Odio, Deputy Associate Director in the Political Affairs Department at the White House.
11 a.m. Sen. Bill Nelson, (D.-Fla.) Member, Armed Services, Budget, Commerce, Finance, Intelligence and Aging committees.
1:30 p.m. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D. –Fla.) Member, House Ways and Means Cmte.
4:30 p.m. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R.- Fla. ) Ranking Member, House Cmte. on Foreign Affairs

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