Letter to president Barack Obama

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hlaOctober 14, 2016

United States National Security Council

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Barack Obama:

In light of the humanitarian crisis created by Hurricane Matthew, and the dangerous health and safety conditions in Haiti even before the storm, we ask that your administration consider the following: (1) immediately halt removals to Haiti, and reinstitute the humanitarian parole option that was available to Haitian nationals prior to September 22, 2016; (2) expand the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP); and (3) re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.

Haiti is currently facing a humanitarian crisis. A possible mass deportation of Haitians from the United States will worsen the situation and will crumble the country’s vulnerable infrastructure. Cholera has killed 9,393 people in Haiti, and left 790,840 people sick as of August 20, 2016, and a larger outbreak is expected as a result of the hurricane. With the devastation to farmlands, the country is at a high risk of food insecurity. Since February 2016, the country has not had a functional government. To date, a provisional president has been in power with no voting parliament.

Despite the Department of Homeland Security’s assertions that conditions have improved enough in Haiti to warrant a change in policy, we respectfully disagree. In fact, the country has not even come close to recovering from the 2010 Earthquake. The State Department’s own website warns against travel to Haiti because of the , there is escalating unrest leading up to the elections, and the unaddressed cholera epidemic caused by the negligent actions and inactions of the United Nations personnel in Haiti. The destruction left behind by Category 4 Hurricane Matthew has only compounded an already precarious situation, leaving a mounting death toll exceeding 1,000, leaving more than 20,000 homes destroyed, and 1.4 million people in need of emergency aid.

Now is the time to extend TPS and expand HRFP for Haitians, not resume removals. On October 12, 2016, the Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a statement making clear that although “removal flights have been suspended temporarily” in light of Hurricane Matthew, “DHS intends to resume [removal/deportation] flights as soon as possible.” This is unacceptable. As the country copes with the aftermath of a category 4 hurricane (including mounting death toll, property loss, and accompanying need for aid), unresolved issues from the 2010 earthquake, and an ongoing cholera epidemic, now is not the time for the United States to change the humanitarian parole policy for Haitians.

Contrary to international laws, the Dominican Republic denationalized generations of Haitians of Dominican descent, creating the largest stateless population in this hemisphere. Secretary Clinton had made great strides to combat state actions leading to statelessness. Nevertheless, from January to August 2016, the Dominican Republic deported more than 21,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent to Haiti; and another 26,000 individuals were forced to flee to escape violence, deportation and threats. Rather than return more people to a country with significantly limited capacity to absorb them, the United States should expand HFRP, which will not only generate additional remittances, but also reunite families in the United States with their loved ones who have lost everything as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

The increase of Haitians entering the United States through the southern border does not justify the change in policy, especially when compared to prior migration statistics. After the earthquake, thousands of Haitians relocated to Brazil because of special humanitarian immigration status; now many are forced to flee for various security reasons. Their willingness to embark on the desperate and dangerous journey to the southern border, instead of returning to Haiti, further demonstrates that Haiti is unable to receive further mass repatriations of Haitians.

To send more people to a situation of devastation and turmoil is simply morally irresponsible and frankly inhumane. We reiterate our request that you consider immediately (1) discontinuing the policy change on removals to Haiti, and reinstitute the humanitarian parole option that was available to Haitian nationals prior to September 22, 2016; (2) expanding the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP); and (3) re-designating TPS for Haiti. If you would like to discuss this matter further, I can be reached at 305-371-8846 or patricia@elizeelawfirm.com.

Respectfully,

Patricia Elizee, Esq.

President, Haitian Lawyers Association

Devona Reynolds Perez, Esq.

President, Caribbean Bar Association

Ian Ward, Esq.

President, Wilkie D. Ferguson Bar Association

Abbie Cuellar, Esq.

Chair, Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board- Miami Dade County

George Odom, Esq.

President, TJ Reddick Bar Association

Lawonda R. Warren, Esq.

President, F. Malcom Cunningham, Sr. Bar Association

Antonya Johnson, Esq.

President, Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar

Tom Andrews

President and CEO, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Stephen Hunter Johnson, Esq.

Chair, Black Affairs Advisory Board- Miami Dade County

cc:

Vice President Joseph R. “Joe” Biden, Jr.

Secretary of State John Kerry

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz

National Security Advisor Susan Rice

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines

Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson

Counsel W. Neil Eggleston

National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zients

United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power

Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan

Homeland Security Council Advisor Lisa Monaco

Senator Bill Nelson

Senator Marco Rubio

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson

 

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