House Haiti Caucus co-chair Ayanna Pressley sent a letter with her fellow co-chairs to US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, calling on him to take a series of measures to support the Haitian diaspora in the country. context of the ongoing political unrest in Haiti. The lawmakers’ letter follows the recent assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, which threatened to further destabilize the country.
“The violence, extreme poverty and political instability that have afflicted Haiti in recent years have caused serious trauma to the Haitian people and to the entire Haitian diaspora,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “It is the responsibility of the United States and the entire world community to come together in support of the Haitian people and the more than one million Haitians and Americans of Haitian descent who inhabit the United States. “
The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the country’s already limited public health infrastructure. Gang violence, bloodshed and continued kidnappings of civilians have displaced thousands of people from their homes. A report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that unprecedented violence and displacement has led to a series of secondary challenges, such as family separation, forced school closings and increased financial insecurity.
In his letter, Representative Pressley commended the Biden administration for re-designating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and urged for early publication in the Federal Register so that eligible individuals can begin the process of applying for these essential protections. Lawmakers also called on DHS to reinstate the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRP), which would allow certain eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for parole for family members in Haiti who cannot. be reunited due to one year. long delay in visa processing.
Additionally, lawmakers called on DHS to finally end all deportations of Haitian migrants amid the political crisis and the continued spread of COVID-19, noting that the Biden administration has deported more than 2,000 Haitian migrants. since the start of the administration, despite the moratorium. on deportations of immigrants already in the country.
“These necessary actions are rooted in the appeals of the Haitian community that we are proud to represent in our congressional districts,” lawmakers continued. “As an ally of Haiti and the Haitian people, the United States must immediately advance a domestic policy that protects the Haitian diaspora and supports the stabilization of Haitian democracy.”
Massachusetts is home to the third largest Haitian diaspora community in the country, with approximately 46,000 Haitians and Haitian-Americans living across the state and more than half in the Boston metropolitan area. In addition, Massachusetts is home to more than 4,700 Haitians with temporary protection status.
In May, on Haitian Flag Day, Representatives Pressley, Levin, Clarke and Demings announced the formation of the House Haiti Caucus, a congressional caucus dedicated to the pursuit of a just foreign policy that prioritizes needs and aspirations. of the Haitian people.
Last week, lawmakers released a statement condemning the assassination of President Moïse and calling for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to Haiti and to the Haitian people.