Washington, DC – On the one year mark of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, is urging President Obama to extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitians living in America and bring tens of thousands of Haitians with approved visas to the U.S.
Senator Gillibrand said, “Now that the television cameras have left, we can’t let our compassion fade. The tragic loss of life and hardship from this disaster has anguished the people of Haiti and their families here at home. As we mark the one year anniversary of this horrible tragedy, we must not let up on our pledge to help rebuild Haiti. We also must continue to protect Haitian nationals residing in our borders and help unite tens of thousands of Haitians with families in the United States. The survivors of the tragedy remind us of the strength, resilience, and hope that emerged from the rubble. We stand in unity with the Haitian people and remain steadfast in our mission to see Haiti overcome, recover, and succeed.”
More than 300,000 people have died from the earthquake and over one million displaced Haitians are still living in crowded camps. Many others are still without basic services. Senator Gillibrand urged the following measures to protect Haitians in the U.S.:
Extending Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in the U.S.
In the hours immediately after the earthquake, Senator Gillibrand called on President Obama to grant temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians living in America, a request the Administration acted on by granting immigration status to Haitians for eighteen months. With TPS set to expire in July 2011, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) are leading a bicameral effort this week urging the President to extend the status for an additional year through 2012. This would allow Haitians in the U.S. to continue to live here without fear of returning to a country ravaged by devastation.
Uniting 35,000 Haitians with U.S. Family Members
Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Clarke are leading a Congressional push to bring 35,000 Haitians who have U.S. government-approved family immigrant petitions to the U.S. Due to visa backlogs, some Haitian spouses and minor children of U.S. permanent residents or adult children of U.S. citizens could wait years to come to America. Congressional leaders are asking the President to use his parole authority to fast-track this process and help tens of thousands of Haitians join their U.S. families. Later this month, Senator Gillibrand will re-introduce the Help Act, legislation that would allow such individuals to leave Haiti and work in the United States.