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(Above Image: Jan. 2010 earthquake damage in Haiti. After the quake, advocates began a campaign to expedite immigration for Haitians with family members already in the U.S. Photo Marco Dormino/ The United Nations United Nations Development Programme)
Two-and-a-half weeks before the midterm elections, the Obama administration has announced plans to allow the massive importation of more than 109,000 Haitians, acquiescing to an aggressive lobbying campaign that has spanned more than four years.
That campaign was led by advocacy groups including the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) which have criticized President Obama for not acting before now.
According to an announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program will begin in early 2015. The program will offer eligible Haitians a chance to come to the U.S. up to two years before their visa dates would normally allow.
Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens told the Miami Herald:
“This is a great win for my Congressional District, which is home to the largest Haitian community in the U.S…I look forward to personally welcoming and rolling out the red carpet for the first wave of recipients of this program.”
The push for the humanitarian program began after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January of 2010 killing more than 300,000 people and leaving 1.5 million Haitians homeless.
Not everyone welcomed news of the impending action. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called it “an irresponsible overreach of the executive branch’s authority and is likely just the beginning of the President’s unilateral and executive actions on immigration.”
There are many questions left unanswered. Which countries are next on President Obama’s list? Will there by medical screenings before entry? Will work permits be granted automatically? How will this affect American workers? The President’s continued push to circumvent Congressional authority and ignore the rule of law sets a bad precedent for the future.–Sen. Chuck Grassley
Once “paroled” into the U.S., the Haitians will be eligible to apply for a work permit and continue their wait for a green card.