Miami, FL – October 17, 2013 – Earlier today DHS announced they will begin implementation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program permitting certain Haitians residing in Haiti, whose family-based visas have already been approved, to join their US citizen and lawful permanent resident loved ones in the United States.  A scarce number of family-based visas approved by Congress years ago has resulted in huge backlogs, causing Haitians and countless others from around the world to remain forcibly separated from their US family for years.

Under the new program, Haitians whose priority date will become current in about two years will be paroled into the US and eligible in early 2015 to apply for a work permit.  Haitians whose visas won’t be available for more than 2 years will be forced to remain in Haiti for up to 10 years or longer.

“While the relief granted is far more restricted than we were hoping for, we’re grateful that the Administration has stepped up to the plate and done the right thing for some Haitian families,” said Cheryl Little, Executive Director, Americans for Immigrant Justice.  “We have been urging Congress and the Administration to address this issue since the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and very hopeful this would happen earlier, given that a similar program benefitting Cubans was already in place.”

Family unity is supposedly the cornerstone of our immigration laws, so Haitians and others who have done everything required of them by our government to come here legally and whose visas have been approved should not have to wait years to join their loved ones.  Little adds, “Congress must fix our broken, outdated immigration system. Otherwise, desperate immigrants will continue risking their lives, undertaking dangerous journeys, to reunite with their families.”

AI Justice hopes that the resources necessary to fairly and timely process HFRP application will be forthcoming. This was an issue after passage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, when many applications were not timely adjudicated because USCIS lacked the necessary resources.