Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thank You for Lobbying to Protect Haitian Immigrants

FCNL would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who participated in last week's action alert to stop the deportation of Haitian immigrants. On the evening of Friday, January 15, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will be granted to Haitian immigrants for the next 18 months, while Haiti recovers from the earthquake. This success may seem small, in light of the challenges still facing Haiti, but it is still extremely important.

Your successful lobbying efforts have helped to protect tens of thousands of Haitians in the United States from being returned to an unsafe situation in Haiti. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that between 100,000 and 200,000 Haitian immigrants are eligible for TPS, about 30,000 of whom are currently scheduled for deportation. TPS will allow these immigrants to stay and work in the United States for now.

In this way, Haitian immigrants will be empowered to contribute directly to the country's recovery. As they receive their work permits through TPS, they will be able to send their earnings back to support their families and communities in Haiti. Even before this crisis, the Haitian economy relied significantly on remittances. Now, the need for remittances is even greater and TPS will help to meet that need.

Thousands of Haitians still lack access to basic necessities like food, water, and shelter. Displaced people need to be protected, families need to be reunited, and broken infrastructure needs to be restored. As the international community seeks to supply aid, Haiti faces the threat of an impending public health disaster. For Haiti to successfully recover from this devastating crisis, the country will require not only short-term relief work or an international military presence, but an international commitment to sustainable long-term development.

For Haiti to become less vulnerable to natural disasters, the U.S. government and international aid organizations will need to coordinate their efforts with the Haitian government and Haitian nonprofit organizations. Haiti has the potential to emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient, but only if today's efforts focus on strengthening Haitian institutions, infrastructure, and expertise.

We encourage you to hold the people of Haiti in your hearts and minds, even after the news cameras leave. For more information on TPS, please see the interfaith letter of support that FCNL coordinated last week. To keep up with our work on immigration, please visit our website, read our immigration blog, and email me (at to sign up for regular updates to learn about how you can get more involved in promoting immigration reform.

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