More Support From Congress – Senator Gillibrand Speaks

21 01 2010

Thanks to Senator Gillibrand of New York for the following letter to Secretary Nepalitano!

January 19, 2010

Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Napolitano:

I would like to thank you for your exceptional leadership in the wake of the humanitarian crisis that followed the recent earthquake in Haiti. Specifically, I would like to thank you for your response of granting humanitarian parole status to eligible Haitian children in the process of adoption by U.S. families, in order to ensure that they are not additionally harmed in the chaos following the earthquake.  Yet, I have noted two additional groups of children who require your attention.

In addition to the children that have been legally confirmed as eligible orphans by the Haitian government or previously identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for inter-country adoption, and who were in the process of being adopted by or matched to American families prior to the earthquake, I understand that there is a group of children identified as orphans prior to the earthquake who were at an earlier phase of being matched with families.  I urge you to consider the condition of these remaining orphans who may otherwise be overlooked during a chaotic recovery period. They will also unnecessarily suffer a great deal if they are forced to wait for the Haitian government to reach full capacity before their adoptions may be addressed. Given the fact that the Haitian Government has declared a temporary emergency, I ask that the Department of Homeland Security along with the State Department work with the Haitian Government to expedite the adoptions of all potentially eligible orphans for American adoptions, or at the least to provide temporary refuge with their prospective parents in the United States.

Also, I want to direct your attention to alarming press reports that indicate that Haitian-American parents fleeing the country are forced to choose which of their children can leave Haiti with them. As you know, Haitian-American families have a high degree of mixed citizenship within immediate families.  Apparently there are families with several children, only some of whom have U.S. citizenship or other legal status. To the extent that Haitian-Americans are seeking to be part of the U.S. evacuation response and have children, spouses or other immediate family members who do not have status in the U.S., I urge you to allow such families to stay intact and travel together to the U.S.  Let us not be complicit in making parents choose to leave behind children in this dire situation.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Cc: The Honorable Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State

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