On Capitol Hill, Haitian activists seek Temporary Protected Status

WHAT: Press Conference hosted by the office of Rep. Alcee Hasting (D.-Fla.) and members of United Haitian Association of USA, Inc., regarding the need to grant Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the United States.

WHERE: 210 Cannon House Office Building
WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Thursday July 30, 2009

In December of 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.

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, as demonstrated earlier this week in a tragic boating incident that claimed the lives of dozens of Haitians.

“This tragedy is a sad reminder of the hopelessness and desperation facing the Haitian people,” said Hastings. “Critics argue that granting TPS will compel Haitians to leave their country. Tragedies such as this make it clear that the opposite is true,” continued Hastings. “Those living on the island feel they have no choice but to risk their lives and take to the seas. Meanwhile, the United States has the power to provide this devastated nation immediate, substantial relief. TPS will provide Haitians with the hope and opportunity to improve their lives in their homeland, and will allow the Haitian government to invest all of their limited resources in Haiti’s long-term recovery and sustainable development.”

By enabling 30,000 Haitians to work and send remittances to 150,000 to 300,000 persons in Haiti, TPS would reduce the desperation that leads to such tragedies.

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