Monday, December 13, 2010

Haiti orphan bill becomes law

Last week the U.S. Senate postponed voting on the DREAM Act, a proposal that would legalize the status of potentially thousands of undocumented youth. Discussion on the bill has reignited the debate on illegal immigration and led to some attacks against the plan that were reviewed by

While plenty of attention has been paid to the DREAM Act, another proposal to help undocumented youth was quietly passed and became a law this month. On Thursday President Barack Obama signed the Help Haiti Act (HHA) into law days after it received Congressional approval.

The HHA facilitates the adoption of approximately 1200 Haitian orphans adopted after January’s massive earthquake. The HHA treats the Haitian orphans the same as other internationally adopted orphans. Thus, they avoid the risk of being deported by staying in the U.S. with permanent resident status and subsequently citizenship.

Though both the DREAM Act and the HHA help young immigrants, the latter’s Congressional sponsor (Rep. Jeff Fortenberry) was opposed to the DREAM Act. “This is about Haitian orphans and their adoptive American families and to leverage that bill for a highly controversial immigration measure was just wrong,” Fortenberry said to over efforts to introduce both proposals together. Ultimately both plans were presented separately and after a brief delay the HHA was swiftly passed on December 1st.

Meanwhile, as reported on the Miami Herald’s website, some deportations to Haiti may resume after being put on hold after the tremor nearly a year ago:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said Friday that the U.S. expects to begin flying deportees with criminal records back to Haiti in January in coordination with Haiti's government.

Gonzalez says ICE is must deport people with criminal records or release them "if their repatriation is not reasonably foreseeable."
Haiti has been rocked in recent weeks by an outbreak of cholera and unrest over last month’s possibly fraudulent presidential elections. Two of the leading presidential hopefuls on Saturday rejected a planned recount of the first round of elections.

Image- Ramon Espinosa/AP via MSNBC (“Children play at the Foyer des Infants orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 8.”)
Online Sources- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle,,,,, Reuters

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