Mass. delegation appeals for Haitian humanitarian parole

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation are urging the Obama administration to expedite humanitarian parole for approved Haitian petitioners.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, along with Representatives Edward Markey, Barney Frank, John Olver, Jim McGovern, Stephen Lynch and Michael Capuano, ask that the DHS grant entry into the U.S. for beneficiaries of already approved family-based immigration petitions.

The individuals in question have already been approved, but remain in Haiti because Legal Permanent Residents, who have the right to petition for spouses and children, face a delay of as long as five years before families can be reunited. There are 105,000 Haitian beneficiaries – of which 16,000 are children and spouses – who are ready to come to the United States.

"We write with what we believe to be a simple and compelling request: that you use your authority to parole into the United States the beneficiaries, now in Haiti, of approved family based immigration petitions, without regard to the priority date of the applications,” the lawmakers wrote. “Members of Congress made this request in the immediate aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. Conditions in Haiti remain deplorable, and, in many cases, life-threatening… we appeal again to your humanity.”

The Mass. delegation joins Governor Deval Patrick – who submitted a similar appeal to Secretary Napolitano last month – and a growing list of political leaders across the country in pressing the administration to expedite humanitarian parole for Haitians. This call to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program would essentially mirror the Cuban Reunification Parole Program, which was established under former President George W. Bush in 2007.

Four other Massachusetts delegates— Rep. Niki Tsongas, Richard Neal, William Keating and John Tierney — did not sign the letter.