ACTION: Urge Congress to Support Haiti

Jesuit Refugee Service

Take action today to urge your congressional representative to sign-on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 144, a bill that will temporarily halt deportations of Haitian nationals in the United States, allowing the Haitian government the time it needs to invest its limited resources into rebuilding the country and offering emergency relief to its suffering citizens following four deadly storms last September.
As you may know, in September 2008 Haiti suffered massive destruction wrought by Tropical Storms Fay and Hanna and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Currently 800,000 Haitians are in need of humanitarian assistance. The storms left many of Haiti’s 8.5 million citizens homeless – without food, water, shelter, or healthcare – and compounded the food shortage which came to light during the food riots in April 2008. The Artibonite “breadbasket” region of Haiti has been flooded by storm waters, destroying an estimated 180 million dollars in crops.

Jesuit Refugee Service provides humanitarian assistance to Haitian refugees and migrants dwelling along the Haitian border with the Dominican Republic. Our field office in Ouanaminthe Haiti has seen the effects of both the food crisis and the storms in the last year . Haitian society is fragile and the U.S. plan to deport 30,000 Haitians to the storm ravaged nation represents a grave security and humanitarian concern. Of these 30,000 Haitians awaiting deportation, 600 currently sit in U.S. detention centers nation-wide, and may be indefinitely detained unless the Administration or Congress acts.

A Plea for Help

On October 4, 2008 Haitian President Preval made a public plea to the U.S. Administration. He explained that deporting thousands of Haitians back to Haiti under its current circumstances would only act to further exacerbate the current humanitarian crisis and increase the stress on Haiti’s already fragile economy. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has not yet responded to this plea.

What is TPS?

Congress established TPS to grant safety to those foreign nationals who cannot safely return to their home country due to ongoing armed conflict or because of an environmental disaster. The destruction caused by the four storms in Haiti has made the safe return of Haitian nationals to their country impossible. TPS would allow Haitians currently in the U.S. to stay temporarily, as a response to the natural disasters and political strife that have recently plagued the country.

Act Now

H.R. 144 is a bill designed by a group of concerned Congressional Representatives to answer President Preval’s Plea to halt deportations and grant Temporary Protected Status to eligible Haitians. Please write to your Representative to urge them to co-sponsor this important legislation.

What you can do:

Click on the following link to write to your Representative to urge them to co-sponsor this important legislation: http://capwiz.com/jesuit/issues/alert/?alertid=12786681

Sample Letter

Dear Mr. Odio,

I write you as ____________ _(Title) of ____________ _(organization) to
express support for the designation of the country of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status. As a member of the faith community I am particularly troubled by the current situation facing the 30,000 Haitian nationals currently slated for deportation. In light of the massive destruction caused by four deadly storms which struck Haiti in September 2008, Haiti qualifies for TPS under the aforementioned criteria. TPS has been granted in the past to nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Haitian President Rene Preval called for the US to halt deportations of Haitians in a public plea on October 4th, 2008, stating that deporting thousands of Haitians back to Haiti under the current circumstances will only act to further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. Addressing the emergency situation in Haiti is a moral imperative. A few months ago, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 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 that developed during the food riots in April. Indeed the storms reportedly destroyed an estimated 180 million dollars in crops. We hope that the Obama Administration will realize that deporting thousands of Haitians 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 into rebuilding damaged infrastructure and offering emergency relief to its suffering citizens.

We hope we can count on the Obama Administration to recognize the
urgency of the situation facing Haitians today.

With Warm Regards,

Shaina Aber, Esq.

Associate for Policy

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

202-629-5942