Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart

Representing the 25th District of FLORIDA

Diaz-Balarts and Ros-Lehtinen Ask President Obama for TPS for Haitians in the US

Mar 25, 2009
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), along with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), today asked President Obama to promptly grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals living in the United States in the wake of the destruction caused by the string of storms that have hit Haiti last hurricane season. TPS is meant to provide work permits and a safe haven to nationals from a foreign country that are present in the United States until it is safe for them to return to their country.

Following please find the letter sent by the Congressmen to President Obama today:

“Dear President Obama:

We are writing to reiterate our support for your Administration granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals in the United States.

As you know, the Haitian people are still struggling to recover after a string of natural disasters destroyed many parts of their country.  During last year’s hurricane season, four back-to-back tropical storms ravished Haiti leaving widespread devastation on the island nation and killing hundreds.  The flooding and mudslides caused by the storms left Haiti’s already precarious infrastructure in tatters with many bridges, roads, water and sanitation systems, schools, hospitals and homes destroyed.  An entire season’s crop harvest was wiped out, causing food prices to skyrocket and Haitians to riot because of their inability to provide food for their families.  To this day 150,000 still survive on donated food.  Reports state that the storms destroyed 15 percent of the GDP of a country that is considered the least developed in the Western Hemisphere and a recent report found that Haiti is the 7th must vulnerable country in the world to the economic downturn. 

Although months have passed since the storms hit Haiti, the country is far from returning to a state of normalcy.  The recovery efforts are hampered by the Government of Haiti’s lack of the necessary resources to provide basic services, let alone adequately provide for its citizens after this string of natural disasters.  The deportation of over 30,000 Haitian back to their country will only further destabilize the country and leave it without much of the remittances that help many Haitian families survive. 

A U.S. State Department travel warning issued in January illustrates the hazardous nature of the situation in Haiti.  The State Department warning specifically cited the “destructive impact” of the storms when warning of travel to Haiti.  Another State Department report says that many parts of the country are experiencing “chronic shortages” of food and says there are “no safe areas” in Haiti. 

Congress established TPS as a safe haven for those foreign nationals who cannot safely return to their home country due to ongoing armed conflict or because of an environmental disaster.  Clearly, the destruction caused by the four storms in Haiti does not allow the safe return of Haitian nationals to their country, and as such we strongly believe the Administration should provide TPS to the Haitian nationals currently in the United States.

Thank you for your kind consideration of this important matter.

 


Lincoln Diaz-Balart                   Ileana Ros-Lehtinen                  Mario Diaz-Balart”