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Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Oct. 13, 2016 - "Following the devastation and humanitarian disaster suffered by Haiti as a result of Hurricane Matthew, Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) lead a group of 12 Democratic senators in asking the Obama administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians who recently arrived and are living in the United States. TPS has been historically granted to foreign nationals who are unable to safely return to their native country, including some Haitians who were displaced after a catastrophic natural disaster struck their home country in 2010.
“As Haiti is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, it will be in desperate need of humanitarian aid for years to come...Hurricane Matthew only complicates an already desperate situation for Haitian nationals,” wrote the Senators. While the totality of Hurricane Matthew’s damage and destruction has not been determined yet, the lawmakers make the case for TPS protections for victims as part of the United States’ response by citing a growing death toll of over 1,000 deaths in Haiti and some early damage estimates reaching $1 billion.
In their letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, the Senators also asked for additional details about the September 22, 2016 announcement by DHS to resume deportations of non-criminal Haitian nationals and use of expedited removal and mandatory detention policies. DHS recently announced a temporary suspension of removal flights to Haiti in light of Hurricane Matthew. “The United States’ focus should be to prioritize disaster assistance and recovery, not to return Haitian nationals to a country lacking the capacity to support them. We ask that you take the urgent humanitarian situation into account when considering TPS designation and evaluating the new deportation policy,”concluded the senators.
In addition to Menendez and Nelson, the letter was also signed by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); Cory Booker (D-N.J.); Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.); Ed Markey (D-Mass.); Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); Al Franken (D-Minn.); Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
A complete copy of the letter is available for download here"