(JTA) — The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society has called on the U.S. government to grant temporary protected status to Haitians currently in the United States.
HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, on Wednesday joined the Refugees Council USA and 24 other refugee agencies in sending a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano calling upon the Obama administration to quickly arrange TPS for Haitians.
Temporary protected status allows a particular group of foreign nationals to receive temporary refuge in the United States if returning to their own country would pose danger to their personal safety due to an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster.
Haiti was struck Tuesday by its worst earthquake in 200 years.
“In this tragedy, it is important that the wealthiest country in the Western Hemisphere assists the poorest country with a comprehensive strategy," said Gideon Aronoff, president and CEO of HIAS. "Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones and whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed in this natural disaster. Many of the Haitians in the U.S. are unable to return to their homeland because of the infrastructure chaos there, yet by staying here they are able to provide important economic and social support for their family members in Haiti."
Aronoff also called for a stay of the Department of Homeland Security’s current policy of intercepting and returning Haitians fleeing their country by sea for the United States.