Immigrations & Customs Enforcement earlier today announced they were suspending deportations of Haitians in the United States:
STATEMENT BY DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY MATT CHANDLER:
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton today halted all removals to Haiti for the time being in response to the devastation caused by yesterday’s earthquake. ICE continues to closely monitor the situation.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA believes the U.S. should grant Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the U.S., and we urge you to take action today to urge the White House and Congress to grant TPS to Haitian nationals in the United States, allowing the Haitian government the time it needs to invest its limited resources into rebuilding the country and offering emergency relief to its suffering citizens following a devastating earthquake which rocked the nation on the afternoon of January 12, 2010.
The powerful earthquake, which initially registered as magnitude 7.0, is believed to be the strongest to ever hit the country. Schools, hospitals, houses, government offices and even the Presidential Palace and the UN mission crumbled in the wake of the earthquake. While rescue efforts are under way, the Haitian government does not have the necessary infrastructure to care for its citizens at this time of crisis.
The quake follows on the heels of a troubled year in Haiti which is still endeavoring to recover from storm and hurricane damage that destroyed much of the country in the autumn of 2008. Like the storms and hurricanes before it, the earthquake will likely leave many of Haiti’s 8.5 million citizens homeless – without food, water, shelter, or health care.
Jesuit Refugee Service provides humanitarian assistance to Haitian refugees and migrants dwelling along the Haitian border with the Dominican Republic. Our field office in Ouanaminthe Haiti has seen the effects of successive natural disasters, a food crisis and storms in the last year. Haitian society is fragile and any U.S. move to deport 30,000 Haitians to the earthquake ravaged nation would represent a grave security and humanitarian concern.
What is TPS?
Congress established TPS to grant safety to those foreign nationals who cannot return to their home country due to ongoing armed conflict or because of an environmental disaster. The destruction caused by the earthquake in Haiti has made the safe return of Haitian nationals to their country impossible. TPS would allow Haitians currently in the U.S. to stay temporarily, as a response to the natural disasters and political strife that have recently plagued the country.
Please write to the President and Congress today to urge them to grant temporary relief to the Haitians currently stranded within our borders.