January 25, 2010


Debate grows in aftermath of quake: Should U.S. let more Haitians immigrate? (Amy Goldstein and Peter Whoriskey, 1/25/10, Washington Post)

Now that the earthquake's initial shock is giving way to the realities of trying to cope in the ruins, a growing number of Haitians -- and their relatives in the United States -- are starting to chafe under the Obama administration's edict to resist, as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has put it, "an impulse to leave the island and to come here."

The tension between U.S. policy and the desperation to leave is spawning a debate in Washington over whether the government should let more Haitians in. Immigration advocates and several members of Congress have begun pressing the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to ease the rules. So far, the focus is on two groups: Haitians with relatives legally in the United States and a few hundred injured children who, in the judgment of doctors doing relief work in Haiti, could die without sophisticated medical care.

In the first days after the Jan. 12 quake, Napolitano announced that the government would admit Haitian children already on the cusp of adoption and that it would allow Haitians who were in the United States illegally to stay for 18 months. The administration has not eased restrictions for children newly orphaned or injured by the disaster, Haitians who had already been seeking U.S. visas, or any other earthquake victims who want to come.

Late last week, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said Homeland Security officials had told him the agency would grant "humanitarian parole" to about 200 severely injured Haitian children. Even after that, Nelson said, he got a late-night e-mail, with the subject line "HELP," from a Miami neurosurgeon doing relief work, saying the U.S. Embassy in Haiti would not allow three critically burned children to be flown to a Miami burn unit. Nelson also said the State Department had issued a memo saying that a 17-year-old named Samantha, with a broken back and a father in Michigan, "would be ineligible to board an aircraft to the United States."

"Typical bureaucratic crap that needs to be cut through," Nelson said in an interview.

We are too decent a country to ever make them leave and we'll end up taking at least tens of thousands more.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 25, 2010 6:16 AM
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