Statement from ED of Catholic Legal Services, Archdiocese of Miami
Concerning the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti
I believe deeply and whole-heartedly in the efficacy and power of prayer. At this early stage, prayer is an appropriate and necessary response to the tragedy of Haiti’s earthquake. Haiti, its multitudes of casualties, and all those affected by this tragedy, desperately need our prayers. This is especially true of those in our South Florida Haitian community who cry out in fear for their loved ones trapped in the midst of chaos. But in the coming hours, days and weeks, the sincerity of our prayers will be carefully measured by specific actions-- actions taken to assist in the rescue and recovery of the victims; to provide relief from the horror of this devastation, and to rebuild Haiti so that it will never again be mortally prone to such calamity.
An essential element in these efforts must include the designation of Haitians in the United States for Temporary Protected Status. TPS is an immigration status that allows individuals from designated countries to remain in the US for a temporary period because they are unable to safely return home due to ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of a natural disaster, or other extraordinary conditions. When famine threatened Sudan and Somalia, the US granted TPS to nationals of those countries; when civil strife ripped through Liberia and Sierra Leone, they were granted TPS. When Hurricanes afflicted Nicaragua and Honduras, TPS was given. When an earthquake hit El Salvador, it received TPS. Haiti contends with all of these tragedies simultaneously. It was for this precise situation that the law of TPS was enacted. Not to grant TPS to Haiti ignores the rule of law and defies the will of Congress. And, as President Bush stated when granting TPS to Salvadorans after its earthquake: “The havoc caused by these earthquakes makes it extremely difficult for Salvadorans to return home safely at this time ... granting them temporary protected status is the prudent and humane thing to do."
The immediate designation of Haiti for TPS accomplishes the following:
- Protects those Haitians in the US who have no place to safely return;
- Allows Haitian nationals already in the United States to work, pay U.S. taxes and send money back to relatives in Haiti. Haitians in the US already send $1billion in remittances to Haiti, representing a critical form of disaster relief at no cost to the US taxpayer;
- Ensures the orderly flow of migration and decreases the risk of mass migration by reducing potential social burdens and maintaining remittances;
- Provides Haiti with much needed time to concentrate on rescue, recovery and disaster relief without the added stress posed by additional homeless, hungry and jobless migrants returning to a chaotic situation;
- Comforts an already traumatized expatriate Haitian community who fear repatriation to a land of devastation;
- Protects US families. Many Haitians facing repatriation have US citizen spouses and children whose return to Haiti threatens to break apart these families
- Restores US commitment to the Rule of Law by extending legal protection to Haitians denied them but granted to others in similar situations
- And it is the prudent and humane thing to do!!!
Randolph McGrorty, Executive Director
Catholic Legal Services, Archdiocese of Miami