Democrat Lawmakers Pushing Measure To Speed Immigration For Some Haitians

Dem lawmakers pushing measure to speed immigration for some Haitians

By Jordan Fabian
The Hill (Washington, DC), February 4, 2010

Three Democratic lawmakers on Thursday pushed legislation that would hasten visas for some Haitians as recovery efforts continue following the devastating earthquake there.

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced that they would introduce legislation in the Senate and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) will introduce counterpart legislation in the House.

The bills would allow approximately 55,000 Haitians with families in America who already have approved immigration status entry into the U.S.

'During this catastrophe, it is important that we do everything we can to bring Haitian families together,' Gillibrand said in a statement. 'Families here at home still fear for the safety of their relatives in Haiti, many of whom are homeless. This legislation allows those with approved petitions to finally unite with their U.S. households as quickly as possible and send money back at a time when Haiti is so desperate for help.'

The bill comes as many Haitians are attempting to leave the poor island nation due to widespread property destruction and massive fatalities.

All three lawmakers hail from areas surrounding New York City, which has one of the largest Haitian immigrant populations in the country.

The measure could draw opposition from some Republicans, who have been wary of Haitian immigration to the U.S. in the aftermath of the earthquakes.