Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rep Ed Towns’ Statement on Temporary Protected Status for Haitian Refugees in the U.S.

U.S. Rep. Towns (NY-10) released the following statement today following a press conference, where Members of the New York City Congressional Delegation convened at Brooklyn Borough Hall in support of the humanitarian relief efforts being organized to support Haiti. At the conference, Rep. Towns, who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government reform, discussed his plans to lead a congressional delegation to Haiti as well as current legislation underway to extend Temporary Protected Status to the tens of thousands of Haitian refugees currently facing deportation.

I want to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the people of Haiti, their families, and our neighbors across Brooklyn who have loved ones living in that country.

With each passing hour, it becomes increasingly clear that the earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday night left behind tremendous destruction and a devastating loss of life. The scenes of the earthquake’s aftermath are heart wrenching.

Today, we are calling on all Americans, and good people around the world, to assist in the international effort to provide vital support and resources to our Haitian brothers and sisters during this critical time.

Now, more than ever, we need to provide temporary protected status for Haitian immigrants currently living in the United States. Doing so will enhance the stability of that brave, yet battered nation and allow for Haitians living in the United States to continue to provide financial support from our shores. As a practical matter, providing Temporary Protected Status is the least expensive, most immediate form of humanitarian assistance we can provide. In order to address situations like the one facing Haiti, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to grant Temporary Protected Status to immigrants when a foreign state cannot handle the return of nationals due to an environmental disaster. Now is precisely the time to extend that status to the thirty thousand Haitian refugees that might otherwise face deportation.

As a cosponsor of Federal legislation to extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitian immigrants, the Haitian Protection Act, I am encouraged by the strong support we have received, including that of Congresswoman Clarke, Congressman McMahon and Senator Gillibrand. I stand ready with my colleagues in the Congress to do whatever is within our power to bring remedy to this urgent situation.”