Helping Haitians Help Themselves

Editorial, Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2010

{snip} [The] administration immediately sent military assistance and millions of dollars in emergency aid [to Haiti]. But it has yet to take another crucial step: expediting the immigration to the United States of the 55,000 Haitians who already have been approved for visas by the Department of Homeland Security.

These Haitians, sponsored by relatives who are either legal residents or citizens, have met all requirements; among other things, they have provided the government with legally binding affidavits from family members guaranteeing financial support so that they do not become a public burden. Due to a monumental backlog of visas available for Haitians, however, officials say the process takes from four to 11 years. {snip}

Removing tens of thousands of people from Haiti’s ruins and allowing them to live and work in the United States would automatically turn them into providers and benefactors, speeding the island nation’s recovery. Even before the 7.0 earthquake, remittances were crucial to its survival, but now they are indispensable. Millions of Haitians living abroad, including about 800,000 in the U.S., sent home nearly $2 billion last year, and World Bank economists expect to see a 20% surge this year. {snip}

Legislation to create a family reunification program for Haitians, modeled on the Cuban program, is pending in Congress. But it is unnecessary. Obama only has to give the order and the Department of Homeland Security will move Haitians to the front of the line. {snip}

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