Miami-Dade County—parts of which I am fortunate to represent in Congress—is home to the largest Haitian-American population in the United States, and I am proud to call Haitian-Americans my friends, my constituents, and, yes, my family.
This made the events of January 2010 particularly heart-wrenching for me. Approximately 293,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged, leaving 1.5 million people in insecure living situations including camps with high levels of violence. Nearly 80 percent of the schools in Port-au-Prince were rendered unusable, leaving young people with limited opportunity and no place to spend their days. Almost 25 percent of civil servants in Port-au-Prince were killed, leaving the nation with a staggering need for government capacity including judicial officers and police.
Haiti is a top priority for me in Congress. I have been a tireless advocate to ensure the continuation of post-earthquake Temporary Protected Status for Haitian immigrants until 2013. With support from more than a dozen Members of the US Congress, I developed a resolution calling on the US Government, the Government of Haiti, and others in the international community to take specific steps to reduce the incidence of gender-based violence in Haiti.