The Obama administration extended a special immigration status on Friday to Haitians living illegally in the United States, protecting them from deportation for 18 months and allowing them to work here.
Calling the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake “a disaster of historic proportions,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she was making the designation, known as temporary protected status, for Haitian immigrants because their personal safety would be at risk if they were deported to Haiti.
Administration officials said the special status would cover at least 100,000 Haitians believed to be living in the United States illegally, as well as about 30,000 Haitians who have been ordered deported. Haitians who receive the status will obtain documents allowing them to work legally.
The administration’s decision followed a rising chorus of calls for the temporary status since the catastrophic earthquake on Tuesday. On Friday, 80 members of Congress, including Democrats and Republicans, and the conference of Roman Catholic bishops, sent appeals to the administration to grant the status.
Ms. Napolitano said the protection would only extend to Haitians already in the country. Officials have hesitated to grant the temporary status to Haitians for fear they would encourage a new exodus of desperate Haitians by boat towards Florida.
“Attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation,” Ms. Napolitano cautioned Friday afternoon.
The decision drew praise from advocates and elected officials from states with large Haitian populations, who, along with the Haitian government, have been pushing for the temporary protected status since December 2008.
“This is the right thing to do,” said Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, in a statement. “Haitian immigrants already in the U.S. will not only be able to make money to support themselves, but also to send remittances to their suffering families back in Haiti.”
Haiti now joins El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Sudan and Somalia on the list of countries whose citizens have temporary protected status in the U.S. The homeland security secretary is authorized to declare such a status for immigrants whose countries face natural disasters — of which Haiti has had several in recent years. Floods in 2004 left more than 500 people dead or missing, and four big storms in 2008 killed at least 800.
If you are in the NYC area and want to donate EMERGENCY SUPPLIES please email: INFO@YELE.ORG and tell them where you are located and what you are donating. They will reply back with the nearest drop-off location.
They are in need of blankets, nutrition bars and medical supplies.
Here are the medical supplies that are needed:
Triple Antibiotic Ointment
Big Garbage Bags
Regular and Childrens Tylenol
Blood Pressure Cuffs
Disposable Adult Diapers
Disposable Baby Diapers
Hand Sanitizer( All Sizes)
Yéle Haiti has teamed up with Federal Express, AmeriCares, Airline Ambassadors, Nature’s Path and Clif Bars for an airlift of medical supplies, food and other emergency items that are urgently needed to assist earthquake victims in Haiti. A FedEx plane will go to Port-au-Prince from Miami next week, the exact date to be determined based on securing landing clearance.
The public is invited to drop off specific items that will be part of the airlift. Yéle volunteers will be on site to screen the donations and will accept only the following items:
– nutrition bars (individual or in packages)
– blankets and sheets (unopened in store wrapping)
– non-battery radios and flashlights (windup or solar)
– candles (loose or in packages)
While the blankets are for people sleeping outdoors and on the street, the sheets are for wrapping bodies of the dead.
These items can be dropped off on Sunday, January 17th from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the following location:
Adrienne Arsht Center
1300 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33132-1608
Yéle Haiti has pulled together a group of like minded organizations and first responders in order to help coordinate the delivery of emergency services and materials needed by victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Each or the organizations will undertake their own fundraising and on-the-ground operations, but have agreed to share resources, collaborate when it makes sense and avoid duplication.
Just formed in the last day, the Alliance has already pulled together four airlifts of medical supplies, food and other emergency supplies – along with teams of doctors. These airlifts will go out beginning Saturday.