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Obama Administration To Allow Thousands Of Haitians To Legally Enter U.S.

McClatchy Tribune News Service National News

Obama Administration To Allow Thousands Of Haitians To Legally Enter U.S.


By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald (MCT)

MIAMI — Thousands of Haitians who have been waiting to reunite with U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident family members in the United States will now have a chance to do so — up to two years before their immigrant visa for a green card may be issued.

Beginning next year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program to expedite family reunification for eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are living in Haiti and have already been approved for a family-based immigrant visa.

The major policy shift announced Friday comes nearly three months before the fifth anniversary of Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, which launched a campaign by immigration and Haitian advocates to speed up family reunification for Haitians, some of whom have been waiting as long as 12 years in the immigration pipeline.

But after 80 pieces of support, including letters signed by the entire South Florida congressional delegation and 17 editorials in nearly a dozen major U.S. newspapers, some had given up hope that such a program would happen.

“There have been more political letters than I can count,” said Steve Forrester, who has led the effort as immigration policy coordinator for the nonprofit Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.

Forrester hailed the announcement, although it doesn’t cover immediately the approximately 100,000 Haitians whose I-130 visas have already been approved for a potential green card.

Under the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program, Haitians authorized parole will be allowed to enter the United States and apply for work permits but will not receive permanent resident status any earlier than when their priority date is due.

“It’s a good first step in the right direction and we’re pleased and gratified that they have finally done something helpful,” Forrester said. “This isn’t a gift. They did this because of how Haiti is. This will save lives and reunite families; and hopefully generate some remittances for Haitians in need.”

But Forrester and others say that all will depend on how quickly the program is implemented. The implementation date has not been decided yet, and DHS on Friday could not say how many people would be eligible to come to the United States in the first year.

Marleine Bastien, executive director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami, said while the program is limited in scope, activists remain grateful to the Obama administration for hearing their collective voices.

“After five long years of organizing locally and nationally, we are elated by the Obama administration’s decision to create the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. But we understand that the plan will only cover those who are only two years away form their priority date,” she said. “It is our estimation that we are talking about a little over 5,000 people.”

“At least we have our foot in the door. But we will continue to work for the rest of the group who are qualified, to get them the opportunity to be reunited with their family members because they have been waited for so long,” she added.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security who had met with Haitian community activists over the years about the issue, said the parole program promotes a fundamental underlying goal of the U.S. immigration system, family reunification.

It also addresses another concern of the United States, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Haiti since the earthquake.

“The rebuilding and development of a safe and economically strong Haiti is a priority for the United States,” Mayorkas said, adding that the parole program “also supports broader U.S. goals for Haiti’s reconstruction and development by providing the opportunity for certain eligible Haitians to safely and legally immigrate sooner to the United States.”

With the announcement, immigration officials are also strongly discouraging Haitians from taking to the high seas in dangerous voyages to reach the United States.

“Such individuals will not qualify for the HFRP program and if located at sea may be returned to Haiti,” Mayorkas said.

AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm



  1. Captain Reacher October 19, 2014

    In a somewhat related article we find esteemed journalist Bob Woodward calling out our resident marxist agitator: http://www.businessinsider.com/bob-woodward-obama-sequester-republicans-2013-2

    1. kenndeb October 19, 2014

      As long as something will further the Emperors agenda, he will do it. If it does not, he will sidestep and lie. When have we ever had a “leader” that elevated lying to an art form?

      1. pisces63 October 20, 2014

        Frankly, it is another case of chickens coming home to roost or pay back is a mother f*******!!!! LOLOLOL!!!! Ever since Haiti fought and WON her independence from slaves over lords, the big powers made them pay for it. USA, France, who lost the battle, and Great Britain. They made them pay through the nose for WINNING against a bunch of bigots who were affronted black people, I will not use their word, kicked them out and whipped their collective asses. God was on their side, too, since most of the French troops died from malaria. 1799-1803, the year Ohio became a state. They made them pay reparations to France. The payment was not in full until the 1940’s. They stripped all lumber and anything of value to leave them desperately poor and no national resources. America even sent troops to keep the ‘n’ in line. Remember the saying? what goes around comes around. I say welcome to an industrious, loving wonderful people. They are nurses, doctors, lawyers, etc. Efficient and capable.

        1. Whatmeworry October 20, 2014

          and crooked and theives

          1. Whatmeworry is Dan M Ketter October 21, 2014

            Did ya read that in a newpaper???

      2. WhutHeSaid October 20, 2014

        Go back inside your trailer and behave yourself. I don’t care if you brush your tooth, guzzle some beer, or even hump your sister (again) as long as you do it out of our sight. Thank you.

        1. kenndeb October 20, 2014

          Out of rehab, again?

          1. WhutHeSaid October 20, 2014

            Don’t look now, but I just saw Deb sneaking out the back in her very best T-shirt. Better hurry — we all know what that means!

  2. Dominick Vila October 19, 2014

    I doubt most Republicans will react to this decision the way they react to the Cuban refugee policy that has been in place during the past several decades.

  3. Whatmeworry October 20, 2014

    Just more on the welfare roles, adding $11T to the national debt in just 6 years just isn’t enough for Barak

    1. Whatmeworry is Dan M Ketter October 21, 2014

      Absolutely false. Airman Max Ketter was on welfare for a few years when Ford Motors laid off non-union pukes

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