Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Devastating Quake Strikes Haiti, Time To Grant Haitians Temporary Protected Status

There is no better time than now for the Obama administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States. On Tuesday just before 5 pm, a massive earthquake struck Haiti, leaving thousands dead and many more without basic resources. The epicenter of the earthquake was only 10 miles from the country's capital, Port-au-Prince, where buildings and shantytowns collapsed and the ground continues to shake from aftershocks. An estimated 3 million people are in need of relief, yet international relief efforts are hampered by blocked roads, a lack of electricity, and damage to communications infrastructure.

Now is not the time to deport Haitians from the United States.

Haiti, which had recently suffered the blows of four hurricanes and was still working to rebuild from those storms, has not seen an earthquake of this magnitude in two hundred years. As international aid flows in, the country will begin efforts to stabilize from this environmental disaster and provide basic support to its population. Deporting Haitians from the United States now would only deepen an already dire humanitarian crisis.

The Obama administration should act swiftly to designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, which would halt deportations and permit Haitians already in the United States to live and work here as Haiti responds to this devastating earthquake. Granting TPS would allow the Haitian government to invest its limited resources into rebuilding damaged infrastructure and offering emergency relief to its suffering people.

FCNL has been advocating for nearly a year for Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, as part of our ongoing efforts to fix the broken immigration system. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 would allow Haitians, along with other undocumented immigrants, to step out of the shadows and legalize their status. Humane immigration reform would enable Haitians in the United States to better support their families and communities in this time of need.

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