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Congresswoman Wilson helps Haitians resolve visa issues

admin | 1/18/2012, 7:30 a.m.

Florida has one of the largest population of Haitians in America. Recently Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, District 17, announced that she is taking the lead in a bipartisan effort with members of the Florida delegation to assist Haitians in getting family-based visas and low-skilled, temporary employment visas while Haiti recovers from the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. The congresswoman is being supported by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio of Florida and U.S. Representative. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, District 18; Ted Deutch, District 19; Corinne Brown, District 3;David Rivera, District 25; and Mario Diaz-Balart, District 21. It is our understanding that tens of thousands of Haitians have been approved for U.S. residency, yet have been forced to wait several years to leave disaster-stricken Haiti, wrote the members of the delegation in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. We would appreciate your assessment of the situation and ways in which you could potentially increase or expedite family migration. Wilson and her supporters are pleading with Secretaries Clinton and Napolitano to extend low-skilled, temporary employment visas to Haitians, such as the H-2A and H-2B visas. Since remittances undoubtedly play such a huge role in Haitis reconstruction and stabilization efforts, it is critically important that we explore additional ways to help Haitians, they wrote. Low-skilled, temporary employment seems to be one way in which a limited number of Haitians may come to the United States, reunite with their families, help build the U.S. economy and most importantly, assist Haiti in its reconstruction through repatriated skills and capital. According to the National Visa Center, of the 100,000 plus Haitians that are waiting for their approved family-based visa numbers to become available, 15,584 applicants are the spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Another 16,216 applicants are the adult children of legal permanent residents. Although some progress has been made, there is still much work to be done, said Cynthia Stafford state representative, District 109. As we observe this second anniversary , this is a time where we should all recommit ourselves to helping our brothers and sisters in Haiti who are still in need. I strongly support Congresswoman Wilson and her colleagues efforts to seek a fast track to address the backlogs for approving visas for Haitian citizens coming to the U.S. By Randy Gricergrice@miamitimesonline.com