January 13, 2010

Gillibrand To Obama: Grant Temporary Protected Status To Haitians

With Devastating Earthquake In Haiti, Gillibrand Urges Obama Administration To Protect Haitians From Violence And Disaster

Washington, D.C. – After a 7.0 earth quake devastated Haiti’s capital city, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today offered her thoughts and prayers for families who lost loved ones in the record-breaking earth quake, and renewed her call to the Obama Administration to grant temporary protected status for Haitians who fled to America because of past violence and disaster.

Senator Gillibrand today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to grant the temporary protected status of Haitians living in America.

“The extreme loss of life that many are expecting from the disaster in Haiti is heartbreaking and tragic,” Senator Gillibrand said. “My thoughts and prayers are with the New York families that are fearing for their loved ones in Haiti right now. Many of these families have experienced far too much anguish already. It is for that reason that I am renewing my call to President Obama to grant these families temporary protected status so they do not have to live in fear of having to immediately return to a country ravaged with devastation.”

Senator Gillibrand’s letter to President Obama is below:  

January 13, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.
20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals currently residing within our borders.  The earthquake that occurred yesterday, January 12, 2010, has devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and the chaos that has ensued puts all the citizenry of that country at risk.  Now is certainly not the time to deport Haitians into an overly burdened country.   

Prior to the earthquake, Haiti was already facing a humanitarian crisis due to the four major hurricanes that ravaged Haiti in 2008 and was exacerbated by the country’s extreme poverty.  The earthquake yesterday has brought the operations of the country to a complete standstill.  Many reports from Haiti describe the damage as “near total destruction” of all buildings, including hospitals, the Presidential palace, homes and many Embassies.  The phone and electrical systems are inoperable and emergency services are nearly non-existent.  TPS is needed because there is no way to safely return Haitian citizens to their country.  The United States granted TPS to Honduras and Nicaragua in 1999, following Hurricane Mitch, and to El Salvador in 2001, following several earthquakes.  As the program is designed, TPS would only be available to Haitians already living in the United States.   

Haiti clearly meets the criteria for TPS designation and extending it would be one way to help address this catastrophe, as well as alleviate additional burdens on American assistance workers.  We respectfully request that you grant TPS to Haitian nationals as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
U.S. Senator