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Ocean Tragedy Underscores Need for Haitian TPS
July 28, 2009

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Vice Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a senior member of the House Rules Committee, and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, made the following statement on the deadly capsizing of a boat off the coast of the Turks and Caicos thought to be carrying nearly 200 Haitian migrants.

“This tragedy is a sad reminder of the hopelessness and desperation facing the Haitian people,” said Hastings. “Nearly one year ago, Haiti suffered damage equivalent to 8-10 hurricane Katrinas hitting the United States in one month alone, and since that time, the current economic crisis has practically dried up the remittances on which so many Haitian families rely. With hurricane season upon us once again, it is immoral and irresponsible to continue to deny Haitians Temporary Protected Status.

“Critics argue that granting TPS will compel Haitians to leave their country. Tragedies such as this make it clear that the opposite is true,” continued Hastings. “Those living on the island feel they have no choice but to risk their lives and take to the seas. Meanwhile, the United States has the power to provide this devastated nation immediate, substantial relief. TPS will provide Haitians with the hope and opportunity to improve their lives in their homeland, and will allow the Haitian government to invest all of their limited resources in Haiti’s long-term recovery and sustainable development.”

By enabling 30,000 Haitians to work and send remittances to 150,000 to 300,000 persons in Haiti, TPS would reduce the desperation which leads to such tragedies. TPS is a moral imperative, as Rep. Hastings and history indicate.

Hastings is a leader in the fight to end double-standard immigration practices as they pertain to Haitian migrants. He is the author of H.R. 144, the Haitian Protection Act, legislation which would designate Haitian nationals in the United States as eligible for TPS, and he recently introduced H.Con.Res. 165, a bipartisan, concurrent resolution expressing Congress’ support for TPS. Hastings has been calling for the extension of TPS to Haitian nationals for years and has been continuously engaged with the current and previous administrations on this matter.


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