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JRS/USA Thanks Congressman for Haiti Support
February 25, 2009

February 25, 2009

The Honorable Alcee Hastings
United States House of Representatives
2353 Rayburn Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Hastings,

On behalf of a diverse coalition of 25 human rights, refugee advocacy, faith-based and humanitarian organizations, I write to thank you and to express our support for your legislation addressing the need to designate the country of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

As you know in September 2008 Haiti suffered massive destruction as it was wrecked by four deadly storms: Tropical Storms Fay and Hanna and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. As a result, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that 800,000 Haitians are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. The devastating storm damage has not only left many of Haiti’s 8.5 million citizens homeless—without food, water, shelter, or healthcare—but has also compounded the food shortage crisis which came to light during the food riots in April. Indeed, the Artibonite “breadbasket” region of Haiti has been flooded by storm waters, destroying an estimated 180 million dollars in crops.

TPS has been granted in the past to nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and to Salvadorans after an earthquake in 2001. As you are well aware, TPS may be granted when any of the following conditions are met: there is ongoing armed conflict that poses a serious threat to personal safety; it is requested by a foreign state that temporarily cannot handle the return of nationals due to an environmental disaster; or when extraordinary and temporary conditions in a foreign state exist which prevent aliens from returning. Haiti’s current circumstances fall well within the criteria for granting TPS.

We thank you and the cosponsors of H.R.144 for joining Haitian President Rene Preval in calling on the United States to immediately halt deportations of Haitians until their homeland recovers. As President Preval delineated in his October 4th public plea to the U.S. Administration, deporting thousands of Haitians back to Haiti under the current circumstances will only act to further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis and may also increase the stress on Haiti’s already fragile economy. TPS will allow the Haitian government to invest its limited resources in rebuilding damaged infrastructure and offer emergency relief to its suffering citizens. We stand in strong support of your important efforts on behalf of Haiti and the Haitian people

Sincerely,

Robert J. Carey
Chair, Refugee Council USA

On behalf of the following organizations:

Amnesty International USA
Church World Service, Immigration and Refugee Program
Episcopal Church
Ethiopian Community Development Council
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
International Rescue Committee
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Kurdish Human Rights Watch
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Migration and Refugee Services
United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Women’s Refugee Commission
World Relief



Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communications@jrsusa.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946