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|January 6, 2009: U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings Reintroduces Legislation to Grant Haitians Temporary Protected Status|
WASHINGTON, DC - Just moments after taking the oath of office today, U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) reintroduced the Haitian Protection Act, legislation which will designate Haitian nationals currently living in the United States as eligible for temporary protected status (TPS) under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The reintroduction of this legislation comes on the same day as reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has formally rejected Haiti's request for TPS.
"By refusing to give Haiti TPS designation, our inequitable immigration polices continue to send a clear message: The safety of Haitian lives is not a priority compared to a Honduran, Nicaraguan, or Salvadoran life," charged Representative Hastings, referencing three of the six countries currently receiving TPS.
TPS may be granted when any one of the following three conditions are met: there is ongoing armed conflict posing a serious threat to the personal safety of individuals; it is requested by a foreign state that temporarily cannot handle the return of nationals due to environmental disaster; or when extraordinary and temporary conditions in a foreign state exist which prevent aliens from returning. Haiti meets all of these requirements, any of which suffices, but the United States government, despite granting TPS to other deserving nationals, has never granted it to Haitians.
"Haiti is making great strides to recover and rebuild from the devastating natural disasters that ravaged the island this summer and the deadly food riots that led to the removal of the Prime Minister in April," Representative Hastings continued. "It is outright shameful that our government has continued to reject Haiti's pleas for this vital assistance at a time when the Haitian government is doing everything possible to bring their country out of chaos and destruction. It is imperative that the United States seize every current opportunity to put our struggling neighbor on a path to sustained development."
Representative Hastings is a leader in the fight to end double-standard immigration practices as they pertain to Haitian migrants. In the 110th Congress, he introduced H.R. 522, the Haitian Protection Act of 2007, a similar bill which gained 54 bipartisan cosponsors. Representative Hastings has been calling for the extension of TPS to Haitian nationals for years and has been continuously engaged in correspondence with the Bush Administration and President-elect Obama's transition team on this matter.
Original cosponsors include: Rep. Corrine Brown, Rep. William D. Delahunt, Rep. Donna F. Edwards, Rep. Elliot L. Engel, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, Rep. Michael M. Honda, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky, Rep. Robert Wexler, and Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey.