Support for Immigration for Haitian Family Members

Desley Brooks

The Oakland City Council will consider a resolution on Tuesday, May 15 to put the city on record in support of a program to reunite people in Haiti with their families in the United States. The resolution, drafted by the staff of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and introduced by Council Member Desley Brooks, calls upon the Obama Administration to create a program to expedite the passage of the over 100,000 families in Haiti who have already been granted visas to join their relatives in the U.S. “With the current immigration backlog, it could take as long as 10 years for people in Haiti to be reunited with their families,” says Gerald Lenoir, executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.  “Given the conditions in Haiti, the Department of Homeland Security should act to create the same type of program that they have for Cubans to allow Haitians to get here as quickly as possible.” In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated  Haiti, many people are still living in tents or in other substandard housing and face the threat of contracting cholera.  In addition, political repression and the threat of violence continue under the Martelly regime. BAJI and groups all across the U.S. are calling upon the Department of Homeland Security to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program – like the ongoing Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program it created in 2007 – or otherwise immediately grant visas to the 105,000 Haitians already approved to give parity and permit their consequent remittance (funds sent home) to help an estimated 550,000 relatives in Haiti. Such a program would reunite families, facilitate orderly migration, save lives at sea, and speed crucially needed recovery funds to hundreds of thousands in need, according to its supporters. Among those whose immigration petitions have already been approved are Haitian spouses and minor children of U.S. permanent residents as well as adult children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including married children and spouses and their families. Groups supporting the resolution include the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund and the Haiti Action Committee.  For information, call BAJI at (510) 663-2254.
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