WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society is backing measures that would allow Haitians awaiting immigration visas to come to the United States and work.
HIAS says the bills introduced last week in both houses of the U.S. Congress would address the plight of 55,000 Haitians whose family-sponsored immigrant petitions have been approved by the U.S. government but who have waited up to 11 years for visas because of backlogs.
"Allowing Haitians to enter the U.S. will not move them ahead of other immigrants on the waiting list, rather it would allow them to leave the devastation of Haiti and send remittances back to the country," said HIAS, the lead Jewish group advocating for immigrant rights, in a statement.
The bills "would permit these petitioners to come to the U.S. immediately to join their families and work here while awaiting their turn in line for a green card," the statement said.
The bills were introduced to help relieve the conditions in the wake of the island nation’s devastating earthquake last month.
"U.S. citizens will continue to lose their Haitian family members to illness, homelessness, or starvation if they must continue to wait before they enter the United States," HIAS said.