Temporary Protected Status for Haitians

January 15, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20500

Secretary Janet Napolitano
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear President Obama and Secretary Napolitano:

As members of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, we are thankful that the administration is acting swiftly to provide emergency humanitarian assistance for Haitians affected by Tuesday’s devastating earthquake. As part of the comprehensive relief efforts, we urge you to immediately grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States.

Tuesday’s earthquake and its aftershocks have left the Haitian capitol of Port-au-Prince in shambles and left its residents without medical care, food, water, or shelter. Current estimates indicate that three million people, or one third of the country’s population, have been affected by this tragedy. Deporting thousands of Haitians from the United States under the current circumstances would deepen an already dire humanitarian crisis.

Designating Haiti for TPS would protect Haitians seeking refuge in the United States by halting deportations and allowing Haitians already in the United States to secure work permits and send their earnings home to help Haiti to rebuild. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti already depends significantly on remittances; TPS would enable Haitians in the United States to better support their families and their loved ones in Haiti. Granting TPS will also allow the Haitian government to better invest its limited resources into rebuilding damaged infrastructure and offering emergency relief to its suffering people.

As you know TPS was established by Congress in order to protect nationals of designated countries who are temporarily unable to return home safely because of ongoing armed conflicts, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. The United States granted TPS to nationals of El Salvador following an earthquake and to Nicaragua and Honduras following hurricanes. Indeed, Haitian President René Préval called for the United States to halt deportations of Haitians on October 4, 2008, after two tropical storms and two hurricanes left many of Haiti’s residents without access to basic resources. Now, the need for Temporary Protected Status is even more urgent.

TPS, instituted in tandem with comprehensive relief and development policies, will protect Haitians in the United States from being forcibly returned to an unsafe situation and will allow Haiti to recover from this crisis.

We urge you to designate Haiti for TPS and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your staff to discuss this important issue.


National Organizations and Denominations

American Jewish Committee (AJC)
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Church World Service (CWS)
The Episcopal Church
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
The Immigration Issues Offices of the Presbyterian Church USA Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ)
Irish Apostolate USA
Islamic Information Center
JCPA (Jewish Council for Public Affairs)
Jesuit Refugee Service
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

Pax Christi USA
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC)
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
3D Security
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society UNITED SIKHS
World Relief

Local Organizations, Congregations, Diocese, and Religious Orders:
AIDS Action Committee of MA
Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B’rith International
Casa de Esperanza of Bound Brook, NJ
Central Baptist Church of Wayne, PA
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice Churches United to Save and Heal
Disciples Justice Action Network
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Providence, RI
Gloria Dei Step Up Center of Providence, RI
Greater Boston Civil Rights Coalition
Hudson Valley Community Coalition
Irish Apostolate USA
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action of Boston, MA
Jewish Community Action of St. Paul, MN
Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties
Logan Square Neighborhood Association of Chicago, IL
Migration and Refugee Services, Diocese of Trenton, NJ
Organization of Chinese Americans – Westchester & Hudson Valley
Sikh Council on Religion and Education
Sisters of the Presentation of New Windsor, NY
Social Action Committee of Temple Israel of Northern Westchester
UJA-Federation of New York
Women of Reform Judaism of New York, NY
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