U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) on Tuesday re-introduced a bill in Congress that 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 Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, it is important that we continue to help the Haitian people move towards recovery,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the largely Caribbean 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, told Caribbean Life.
“As the U.S. Representative for the second largest concentration of first and second generation Haitian immigrants (after Miami), I see firsthand how the devastation of this earthquake directly affects my constituency in the United States,” she added.
“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,” Clarke continued.
The congresswoman said the Haitian Emergency Life Protection Act of 2011, otherwise known as the H.E.L.P Act, would temporarily expand the nonimmigrant visa category to include Haitians whose petition for a family-sponsored immigrant visa were approved on or before Jan. 12, 2010.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has re-introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
“I want to thank my colleagues in the House (of Representatives) for supporting this legislation and continuing to understand the importance of bolstering U.S. policy with Haiti,” Clarke said.
“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,” she added.
“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 (Department of Homeland Security) to reflect this bill right away,” Clarke continued.
She, therefore, urged President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program as soon as possible.