October 17, 2014

After Gillibrand-Clarke Push, Feds To Expedite Reunification Of Haitian Families In U.S.

Gillibrand and Clarke Urged DHS to Implement Family Reunification Program Following Devastating Earthquake in Haiti

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke today announced, after their push, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will implement the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program. Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Clarke led a bi-partisan group of 87 members of Congress in 2011 in urging President Barack Obama to create the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program which would help promote legal and safe immigration of Haitians already approved for family-based immigrant visa petitions, into the United States. The program announced today, will allow legal immigration of Haitians who are eligible and have approved family-based immigrant visa petitions, to enter into the U.S. up to two years before their visa priority start date. The program’s goal is to expedite the reunification process for those living in Haiti with family members that are based in America. The program is expected to begin in 2015.

After Haiti was re-designated for Temporary Protected Status following the most catastrophic earthquake in its history, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Clarke led a letter to President Obama urging for the swift parole of beneficiaries of family-based visa petitions who were approved but were on three to ten year waiting lists. The letter stressed the importance of reuniting minors and spouses of permanent U.S. residents.

“Following one of the most terrible catastrophes in Haiti’s history, many Haitian families were torn apart,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Families here at home fear for the safety of their relatives in Haiti, many of whom are homeless, and who they’ve been away from for years. It’s important that we do everything we can to bring Haitian families together, reunited with their children and spouses, so that their families can become whole again.”

 “I want to commend the Department of Homeland Security on the development of this program, which will allow for the reunification of families that have been separated – in some instances for many years. The continued failure of Congress to enact – or even to debate – comprehensive immigration reform continues to separate parents from their children and husbands from their wives. The wait must end. I am hopeful that this program will form the basis for a broader policy that will allow families from around the world to avoid unnecessary delays in reuniting here in the United States,” said Congresswoman Clarke.

Those with approved immigrant petitions who are waiting to come to the U.S. include spouses and minor children of U.S. permanent residents, adult children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and married children, siblings, and their spouses of U.S. citizens. The Haitian Family Reunification Parole program is authorized under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows parole into the U.S. for  individuals following crisis situations. More than 30,000 approved beneficiaries have been paroled into the U.S. as of 2011, from countries such as Cuba, Kosovo and Indochina through these such programs.

Full text of Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Clarke’s letter to President Obama is attached.

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