Washington, DC – U.S.
Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) Thursday, May 3 wrote to President Bush in response to the President’s decision to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaraguans, Hondurans and Salvadorans but not Haitians currently in the United States.
Representative Hastings is a leader in the fight to end double-standard immigration practices as they pertain to Haitian migrants. He is also the author of H.R. 522, the Haitian Protection Act, legislation which would designate Haitian nationals in the United States as eligible for TPS.
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress
The text of Representative Hastings’ letter to President Bush follows:
May 3, 2007
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I write to bring your attention to a recent statement from Emilio Gonzalez, Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In an article in today’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Mr. Gonzalez is quoted as saying: “Although Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador have made significant progress in their recovery and rebuilding efforts, each country continues to face social and economic challenges in their efforts to restore their nations to normalcy.”
Mr. President, Nicaraguans and Hondurans have continued to receive Temporary Protected Status designation renewal for almost ten years now. As you know, the original designation for Nicaragua and Honduras was granted in response to the devastations from Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and for El Salvador, which is approaching their seventh year of protection, after two deadly earthquakes in 2001.
In the case of all three countries, the U.S. federal government has acknowledged and rightfully supported their struggle to return to a sense of normalcy by granting TPS. However, at the same time, and under similar dire situations, Haitian migrants have not received similar treatment. I ask, why?
According to the U.S. Coast Guard count for the month of April 2007, a total of 704 Haitians were rescued from vessels and repatriated to Haiti. This number is a dramatic increase compared to 43 Haitians rescued in April 2006 and a total of 769 in all of 2006.
Judging by these numbers, it is quite evident that the situation in Haiti is reaching new heights of desperation. Even more, Haiti’s current police force dwarfs in comparison to its population of 8 million, which includes an increasing number of gangs and kidnappers who continue to severely debilitate effective and lasting governance on a daily basis.
Due to Haiti’s unstable condition, foreign investment is discouraged, creating vast unemployment throughout the country. This has forced countless Haitians to risk their lives in the treacherous seas in a quest to provide not only for themselves, but for their family and community members back home.
Repatriation of the very people who can help Haiti through remittances only makes this sizeable problem even larger and out of control.
Granting TPS to Haitian nationals is, now more than ever, a matter of fairness and consistency in our immigration policies.
Again, I respectfully request that you grant Haitians the same consideration and protection that you have supported for other deserving nations and people.
The continuation of unfair and discriminatory immigration policies toward Haitians has not allowed Haiti to obtain the sense of normalcy that its Central American counterparts are being given the opportunity to achieve.
Thank you for your consideration of this urgent request. I look forward to your expeditious response regarding this matter.
With warm regards, I remain,
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress