For Immediate Release: October 25, 2016
MAYORS ISSUE LETTER ON HAITIAN DEPORTATIONS IN WAKE OF HURRICANE MATTHEW
Cities for Action Mayors Representing the Largest Haitian Communities in the U.S. Commend the Obama Administration for Providing Relief to Haitians in the U.S. and Call for Long-Term Solution
WASHINGTON – In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, 11 mayors issued a letter today to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry thanking them for temporarily suspending the deportation of Haitians in the U.S. The letter also calls for greater and more durable steps to protect Haitians in the aftermath of the disaster. Specifically, the mayors ask that Secretaries Johnson and Kerry formally suspend deportations of Haitians from the U.S., and extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in this country who are impacted by Hurricane Matthew and cannot return to their home country.
Hurricane Matthew has caused immense destruction and loss of life in Haiti. TPS would protect Haitians affected by the hurricane from being subject to dangerous and potentially unlivable conditions on the island. TPS is an immigration benefit that was initially extended to Haitians impacted by the 2010 earthquake, and would allow Haitians in the U.S. to integrate further by working lawfully and continuing to contribute to our local economies, while also aiding family members back home.
“In the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s devastation of Haiti, which left over 1,000 people dead, I applaud the administration for temporarily halting deportations of Haitians in the United States. New York City is home to nearly 100,000 Haitian immigrants, many of whom face an uncertain and dangerous future at home if deportations resume. That’s why I stand with my fellow mayors in calling on the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to designate Temporary Protected Status for Haitian New Yorkers and all Haitians currently in the United States. With that protection, families will not live in fear of being removed from the U.S. while their home country continues to grapple with this disaster,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“America is a nation of immigrants, Chicago is a city of immigrants, and our diversity has always been the source of our greatest strength. The United States is great because we are good, and we have always demonstrated our leadership on the world stage by lending a hand to nations in need. In the devastating wake of Hurricane Matthew let us continue to build on that tradition and help our neighbors in Haiti by both supporting the rebuilding of their communities and granting protection to Haitian immigrants living within the United States,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“During this time of tragedy in Haiti, Philadelphia fully supports this call to action to help all Haitians in need. Suspending removals to a country facing the aftermath of a great natural disaster is not only smart but also shows our nation’s compassion,” said Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney.
“Haiti has seen tremendous challenges and suffering in recent years, which have only been compounded in the wake of Hurricane Matthew,” said Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons. “As Haiti still struggles to recover from the earthquake in 2010, and now this devastating hurricane, my strong hope is that the federal government will suspend deportations of Haitian citizens until such time as their country is in a better position to reabsorb them.”
“Paterson’s Haitian community is hurting over the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew,” said Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres. “The best way to support our Haitian-American neighbors is by urging the federal government to do everything it can to assist Haitians as they try to rebuild their lives and homes.”
The mayors who have signed today's letter to Secretaries Johnson and Kerry are part of Cities for Action, a coalition of over 100 cities and counties leading the effort to advance immigration reform and welcome new immigrants. In the aftermath of Hurricane Mathew, the United States has an opportunity to continue its role as a global humanitarian leader and protect Haitian residents in this country from the effects of the disaster.
Below is the full text of the letter from Cities for Action:
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20528
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
October 25, 2016
Dear Secretary Johnson and Secretary Kerry:
Cities for Action is a coalition of over 100 mayors and county executives that advocates for stronger policies to welcome, embrace, and protect our foreign-born residents. Cities are uniquely invested in immigrant integration. As local leaders, we see first-hand the positive contributions of immigrants. They are our neighbors, colleagues, and classmates. They help make our communities stronger economically, socially, and culturally.
On behalf of our residents, including over 200,000 of our Haitian-born community members and their families and friends, we thank you for taking steps to provide relief to Haitians in the U.S. following the recent devastating Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. The decision to temporarily suspend removal flights to Haiti will protect many from being forced to return to a country that is facing dire conditions.
We also urge greater and more durable steps to protect Haitians in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Specifically, we ask that current efforts to remove Haitians from the U.S. be formally suspended and that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) be extended to Haitians in this country who are impacted by Hurricane Matthew and cannot return.
Hurricane Matthew has caused immense loss of life and infrastructural damage in Haiti, the full extent of which is still unknown. Current reports by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimate that the hurricane has claimed the lives of over 500 Haitians. . Unofficial estimates are over twice as high. There are 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, and medication. The storm has also caused a fresh outbreak of cholera due to the mass contamination of water supplies, which survivors have been forced to drink.
The United States can play a crucial role in assisting the nation of Haiti and its people in this time of tragedy. Extending TPS to Haitians in the U.S. to whom the current designation does not apply and suspending the removal of Haitians would ensure that individuals are not forced to return to dangerous and unlivable conditions. This will also help Haiti as the country focuses on public health, humanitarian relief, and rebuilding. Moreover, TPS would allow Haitians in the U.S. to integrate further by working lawfully and continuing to contribute to local economies, while also aiding family members back home. TPS was designed specifically to protect residents of our communities during humanitarian emergencies— its extension to Haitians would be in the best interest of our cities and our country at large.
We urge you to consider this opportunity for the United States to continue its role as a humanitarian leader by protecting our Haitian residents from the effects of Hurricane Matthew and allowing them to remain temporarily within our country through an extension of TPS.
Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA
E. Denise Simmons, Mayor of Cambridge, MA
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, IL
Edward Terry, Mayor of Clarkston, GA
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA
Carlos A. Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County, FL
Tomas Regalado, Mayor of Miami, FL
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, NY
Jose “Joey” Torres, Mayor of Paterson, NJ
James F. Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia, PA
Stephanie Miner, Mayor of Syracuse, NY
Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington, D.C.