The Department of Homeland Security will begin early next year a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program to “expedite family reunification for certain eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and to promote safe, legal and orderly migration from Haiti to the United States.”
The program will allow those already approved under family-based immigrant visa petitions to come to the U.S. up to two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current.
“Due to annual caps, more than 100,000 Haitians with approved family-based petitions remain on waiting lists of up to more than 12 years in Haiti. In creating a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program next year, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to reuniting Haitian families, saving lives, and accelerating Haiti’s recovery efforts following the devastating 2010 earthquake,” Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said. “This will not only help ensure that migration from Haiti is safe and legal, but strengthen Haitian families and provide them with greater opportunities to succeed.”
Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas called “the rebuilding and development of a safe and economically strong Haiti is a priority for the United States.”
“The Haitian Family Reunification Parole program promotes a fundamental underlying goal of our immigration system – family reunification. It also supports broader U.S. goals for Haiti’s reconstruction and development by providing the opportunity for certain eligible Haitians to safely and legally immigrate sooner to the United States,” Mayorkas said in a statement Friday.
“The United States strongly discourages individuals in Haiti from undertaking life-threatening and illegal maritime journeys to the United States. Such individuals will not qualify for the HFRP program and if located at sea may be returned to Haiti.”
Secretary of State John Kerry met earlier this month with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. “The government has worked hard and we have worked hard and the international community has worked hard to make a difference to the lives of the people of Haiti,” Kerry said.
Lamothe said Haiti “has tremendous challenges ahead of it,” but is recovering from the 2010 earthquake that took 250,000 lives and caused $14 billion in damages.
“The country is progressing very much, and that’s thanks very much to the U.S. support of Haiti’s growth, Haiti’s progress. We have a thriving industrial park in the northern part of Haiti,” the prime minister said.
DHS said legal authority for the reunification program “is provided under the Immigration and Nationality Act which authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to parole into the United States certain individuals, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”
“This is the same legal authority used to establish the Cuban Family Reunification Parole program in 2007.”
Hastings said it’s his “sincere hope” that the program “will be expanded, so that all Haitians with approved petitions may join their families in the United States as soon as possible.”