House Haiti Caucus Co-Chair Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley sent a letter with fellow co-chairs to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calling on him to take a series of steps to support the Haitian diaspora amid ongoing political turmoil in Haiti. The lawmakers’ letter follows the recent assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, which has threatened to further destabilize the country.
“The violence, extreme poverty and political instability that has plagued Haiti over the last several years has resulted in grave trauma to the Haitian people and across the Haitian diaspora,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “It is incumbent upon the United States and the entire global community to come together in support of the people of Haiti as well as the more than one million Haitians and Americans of Haitian descent that call the United States home.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the nation’s already limited public health infrastructure. Gang violence and bloodshed and ongoing kidnapping of civilians have displaced thousands from their homes. A report conducted by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that the unprecedented violence and displacements has led to an array of secondary challenges, such as family separation, forced school closures and increased financial insecurity.
In their letter, Rep. Pressley commended the Biden Administration for re-designating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and urged swift publication in the Federal Register so that eligible individuals may begin the process of applying for these critical protections. The lawmakers also called on DHS to reinstate the lapsed Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program, which would allow for certain eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for parole for their family members in Haiti who cannot be reunited because of a years-long backlog in visa processing.
Additionally, the lawmakers called on DHS to finally halt all deportations of Haitian migrants amid the political crisis and the continued spread of COVID-19, noting that the Biden Administration has deported more than 2,000 Haitian migrants since the start of the administration—despite placing moratorium on deportations of immigrants already in the country.
“These necessary actions are rooted in the calls of the Haitian community that we are proud to represent across our Congressional Districts,” the lawmakers continued. “As an ally to Haiti and the Haitian people, the United States must immediately advance domestic policy that protects the Haitian diaspora and supports the stabilization of Haitian democracy.”
Massachusetts is home to the third largest Haitian diaspora community in the country, with approximately 46,000 Haitians and Haitian-Americans living across the state and over half in the Boston metropolitan area. Additionally, Massachusetts is home to more than 4,700 Haitians with Temporary Protected Status.
In May, on Haitian Flag Day, Reps. Pressley, Levin, Clarke and Demings announced the formation of the House Haiti Caucus, a Congressional caucus dedicated to pursuing a just foreign policy that puts the needs and aspirations of the Haitian people first.
Last week, the lawmakers issued a statement condemning the assassination of President Moïse and calling for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to Haiti and the Haitian people.