Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, chair of the USCCB task force on Haiti. introduced September 27 the report “The Displaced of Haiti: Long-Term Challenges and Needed Solutions” on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) mission to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.
Archbishop Wenski made a plea to the international community not to lose focus on Haiti at this critical time. An executive summary of findings, recommendations contained in the report is below. Full report can be found posted at: http://www.usccb.org/mrs/USCCB_MRS_10_trip_report.pdf
The Displaced of Haiti: Long-Term Challenges and Needed Solutions
· Recovery and reconstruction efforts are proceeding slowly, leaving Haiti’s displaced, both inside the country and outside, at grave risk;
· After an initial generous response, nations in the region, including the United States, are beginning to pull back the welcome mat for Haitians displaced because of the earthquake;
· Haitian children remain in danger, subject to difficult living conditions, domestic servitude, and human trafficking;
· Haitian families are divided and policies pursued both by Haiti and surrounding nations, including the United States, have not been designed to reunite them; and
· Interdiction and deportation policies toward Haitians in the region continue or have resumed, despite the fragile state of the recovery effort in Haiti.
· The United States and other nations must provide reconstruction funds in a timely manner and assist the Haitian government in rebuilding the country, including a plan for re-location or return of the displaced to homes;
· Family tracing efforts for orphans must be increased and best interest determinations for Haitian orphans in Haiti and the Dominican Republic should be introduced;
· The United States should liberalize immigration policies toward Haitians, including the reunification of the families of medical evacuees, a re-designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians who arrived after January 12, 2010, and humanitarian parole for Haitian family members who have been approved for a U.S. visa but await a priority date;
· Efforts should be increased to protect children and women along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border to minimize the incidence of human trafficking; and
· U.S. interdiction policies toward Haitians should include proactive asylum screening; the United States should urge the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas to cease deportations of Haitians until the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti progresses and new homes are built or identified.