Congresswoman Wilson Leading Bipartisan Effort by Members of Florida Delegation to Help Haitians Get Family-Based and Temporary Worker VisasThursday January 05, 2012
Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) announced today that she is leading a bipartisan effort by members of the Florida delegation to help Haitians get family-based visas and low-skilled, temporary employment visas while their homeland rebuilds from the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake.
Joining Congresswoman Wilson on a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano are U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ted Deutch, Corinne Brown, David Rivera and Mario Diaz-Balart.
According to the National Visa Center, of the more than 100,000 Haitians waiting for their approved family-based visa numbers to become available, 15,584 are the spouses and children of U.S. citizens, and another 16,216 are the adult children of Legal Permanent Residents.
“It is our understanding that tens of thousands of Haitians have been approved for U.S. residency, yet have been forced to wait several years to leave disaster-stricken Haiti,” wrote the members of the delegation who signed the letter. “We would appreciate your assessment of the situation and ways in which you could potentially increase or expedite family migration.”
The signers of the letter are also urging Secretaries Clinton and Napolitano to extend low-skilled, temporary employment visas to Haitians, such as the H-2A and H-2B visas. According to the Center for Global Development, international migration has lifted more Haitians out of poverty than all the foreign aid, investment and trade preferences extended to Haiti over the past 30 years – combined. This migration has drastically increased remittances to Haiti from the U.S., which are estimated to total more than $2 billion per year, representing nearly twice the amount the U.S. has pledged to Haiti in assistance.
“Since remittances undoubtedly play such a huge role in Haiti’s reconstruction and stabilization efforts, it is critically important that we explore additional ways to help Haitians,” they wrote. “Low-skilled, temporary employment seems to be one way in which a limited number of Haitians may come to the United States, reunite with their families, help build the U.S. economy, and, most importantly, assist Haiti in its reconstruction through repatriated skills and capital.”
Additionally, the Senators and Representatives are requesting a review by the Department of Homeland Security of why the H-2A and H-2B temporary worker programs exclude Haitians, and what specific steps the Haitian government can take to lead to their inclusion.
“These issues are of great importance to the Haitian Diaspora community and to our Florida constituents,” wrote the letter’s co-signers.
Congresswoman Wilson thinks that a decision on the request is imminent, which would be a win-win for thousands of constituents in her district and the businesses that employ them.
Rep. Frederica S. Wilson is a first-term congresswoman representing the 17th District of Florida, including Northern Miami-Dade and Southeast Broward Counties. She is a former state legislator and school principal and the founder of the 5000 Role Models for Excellence Project, a mentoring program for young males at risk of dropping out of school.