Bishops Urge Special Status for Haitians in US

Obama Grants 18-Month Temporary Refuge

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 15, 2010 ( The U.S. bishops are supporting President Barack Obama’s move today to allow Haitians currently in the United States to remain in the country for the next 18 months.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the president of the US episcopal conference, sent a letter to Obama today stating that Haitians in the United States “would be better able to assist their families in Haiti through remittances and by working together as a community to garner other resources for their stricken homeland.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today “the designation of Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of Jan. 12, 2010.”

“This is a disaster of historic proportions and this designation will allow eligible Haitian nationals in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months,” she added. “Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery.”

Cardinal George noted in his letter that “the Inter-American Development Bank reports that Haitians abroad sent close to $1.83 billion home in 2007, which equaled about 35% of the country’s gross domestic product.”

“It is critical that this life-blood of the fragile Haitian economy be sustained, especially at this critical time,” he added.
“Responding to the immediate aftermath of the earthquake,” he continued, “plus ensuring that the Haitian people have access to basic requirements such as water, food, and medicine, will take considerable time and effort.”
“Extending this mantle of protection to struggling Haiti is not only appropriate,” the cardinal concluded, “but a just, compassionate, and concrete step the United States can take toward alleviating the human suffering of the Haitian people.”

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