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U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings Leads 31 Bipartisan Members in Calling for Temporary Protected Status for Haitians

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) led a bipartisan group of 31 Members this week in urging Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to grant Haitian migrants currently residing in the United States Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

“It is unconscionable to think that at a time when Haiti’s physical and economic infrastructure has been obliterated and cities remain buried under feet of water and mud, this Administration is still considering deporting Haitians,” Representative Hastings stated. “Haiti is certainly no stranger to crisis and despair. But at the present time, deported Haitians simply have no communities to which to return.

“This past week, the Department of Homeland Security extended TPS for the eleventh year for Honduras and Nicaragua and fo r the eighth year for El Salvador,” Representative Hastings continued. “These nations were rightfully granted the opportunity to return to a sense of normalcy. Yet, time and again, Haiti is overlooked. How dire must the situation in Haiti become before the U.S. government is willing to take adequate action?”

Representative Hastings is a leader in the fight to end double-standard immigration practices as they pertain to Haitian migrants. He is the author of H.R. 522, the Haitian Protection Act, legislation which would designate Haitian nationals in the United States as eligible for TPS. Representative Hastings has been calling for the extension of TPS to Haitian nationals for years and has been continuously engaged in correspondence with the Bush Administration on this matter.

The text of Representative Hastings’ letter follows:

September 30, 2008
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff,

We write to you to express our deep concern regarding the current situation in Haiti and to urge you to grant Haitian immigrants in the United States Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

As you know, TPS may be granted when any of the following conditions are met: there is ongoing armed conflict posing a serious threat to personal safety; it is requested by a foreign state that temporarily cannot handle the return of nationals due to environmental disaster; or when extraordinary and temporary conditions in a foreign state exist which prevent aliens from returning. Now, more than ever, Haiti continues to meet all of the requirements for TPS.

In less than a month’s time, Haiti has been ravaged by not one, but four natural disasters. Roads and bridges have been wiped out, leaving many cities and towns isolated and only accessible by air. Fields and crops have been flooded, obliterating the nation’s meager domestic food supply. Over 850,000 individuals have been affected with 423 people reported dead, over 150,000 people internally displaced, and nearly 50,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

Haiti is certainly20no stranger to crisis and despair. But at the present time, deported Haitians simply have no communities to which to return.

The original TPS designation for Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador was granted in response to similarly destructive natural disasters. For the past ten years in the cases of Nicaragua and Honduras and the past seven in the case of El Salvador, the United States has rightfully acknowledged and supported the efforts of these nations to return to a sense of normalcy by granting and extending TPS to nationals of these countries. Meanwhile, at the same time and under equally dire situations, Haitian migrants have not received similar treatment.

As Haiti’s humanitarian crisis becomes increasingly dire and the nation’s struggle for economic stability and sustainable development is further delayed, it is now more imperative than ever that the United States grant Haitian immigrants TPS. TPS is the least expensive, most immediate form of humanitarian assistance we can provide Haiti, as it allows the Haitian government to invest all of its limited resources in the rebuilding and redevelopment of its struggling economy.

Haiti has made considerable progress in its efforts to recover from the physical and political damages of recent years20through its commendable rebuilding efforts and its democratic elections. However, its democracy remains fragile. As Haitians continue to live under ever worsening conditions, it is only a matter of time before a humanitarian crisis becomes a political one threatening the stability of Haiti and our entire region.

Just 600 miles from our shores, political and economic instability in Haiti impacts our own economy and immigration levels, thereby making it our responsibility to work to ensure Haiti’s long-term stability. The people of Haiti have long suffered through natural destruction, persistent poverty, and repressive regimes. It is now our moral obligation to help Haitians sustain and rebuild their country by granting Haitian nationals already residing in the United States TPS.

In February of this year, President René Préval formally requested TPS. We ask that his request be given the same consideration that similarly situated nations have been given in the past and that you swiftly grant Haitians this vital, long-overdue assistance. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Alcee L. Hastings
Kendrick B. Meek
John Conyers Jr.
Howard L. Berman
Eliot L. Engel
Charles B. Rangel
Barbara Lee
Maxine Waters
Gregory W. Meeks
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Donna F. Edwards
William D. Delahunt
Corrine Brown
Yvette D. Clarke
Janice D. Schakowsky
Robert Wexler
Sheila Jackson-Lee
Edolphus Towns
Donald M. Payne
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Micheal E. Capuano
Raúl M. Grijalva
James P. McGovern
Luis V. Gutierrez
Lucille Roybal-Allard
José E. Serrano
Albio Sires
Dennis J. Kucinich
Lincoln Diaz-Balart
Mario Diaz-Balart
Joseph Crowley
Charles A. Gonzalez

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