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Rep. Yvette D. Clarke Re-introduces the Haitian Emergency Life Protection Act of 2011 (The H.E.L.P Act) in the 112th Congress

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke re-introduced the Haitian Emergency Life Protection Act of 2011 (The H.E.L.P Act) in the 112th Congress.  This bill would allow an estimated 55,000 Haitians who already have approved immigration petitions to join their relatives in the United States.

“As we approach the second anniversary of the January 12, 2010 earthquake, it is important that we continue to help the Haitian people move towards recovery.  As the U.S. Representative for the second largest concentration of first and second generation Haitian immigrants, I see firsthand how the devastation of this earthquake directly affects my constituency in the United States,” stated Rep. Yvette D. Clarke.  “My constituents are eager to reunite with their family members in Haiti, some of whom have been waiting for up to 11 years to enter the U.S. because of backlogs.”

The H.E.L.P. Act will temporarily expand the V nonimmigrant visa category to include Haitians whose petition for a family-sponsored immigrant visa were approved on or before January 12, 2010.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has re-introduced similar legislation in the Senate.  The following members in the House of Representatives are original co-sponsors this legislation: Reps. Corrine (FL), Donna Christensen (MD), Bob Filner (CA), Luis Gutierrez (IL), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Alcee Hastings (FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton(DC), Jessie Jackson (IL), Barbara Lee(CA), John Lewis(GA), James McGovern (VA), Donald Payne (NJ), Jared Polis (CO), Charles Rangel (NY), Jane Schakowsky (IL), Pete Stark (CA), Edophlus Towns (NY),  Frederica Wilson (FL), William Lacy Clay (MO), and Zoe Lofgren (CA).

“I want to thank my colleagues in the House for supporting this legislation and continuing to understand the importance of bolstering U.S. policy with Haiti.  It is my hope that this bill will provide an expedited pathway to family reunification, bringing peace of mind to the Haitian families within our districts,” said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke. 

“However it doesn’t stop here.  Although legislation is an effective approach, it takes time to go through the legislative process.  The President has the authority to implement a program within DHS to reflect this bill right away. Therefore, I encourage President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program as soon as possible.  This program would mirror the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program and will provide for orderly migration to the U.S. from Haiti reducing the threat of people taking to the seas and other desperate measures,” added Congresswoman Clarke.  “The United States has paroled hundreds of thousands of Cuban, Indochinese, and Kosovar refugees over the years and, of direct precedent, DHS recently renewed the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program (FRPP).  Through this program, over 30,000 approved beneficiaries have been paroled into the United States since 2009.  Given conditions in Haiti, a similar Haitian program is urgently needed. This proposal has merit not only for the humanitarian purpose it would serve, but also to enable Haitians to send more remittances home and foster economic development in Haiti with greater speed.”

“Despite the current political environment in Congress and the slow progress to recovery in Haiti, I will continue to be a strong advocate for the Haitian Diaspora,” concluded Rep. Yvette Clarke.