Haitian Refugee Resettlement, Orphan Adoption, and Temporary Protection for Haitians in the United States

As news outlets report on the earthquake in Haiti, three of the issues consuming the headlines are refugee resettlement, adoption of Haitian orphans, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States. Jennifer Riggs, Director of Refugee and Immigration Ministries, a ministry funded by Week of Compassion and administered by Disciples Home Missions, offers the following important information:
 
The U.S. government is constantly reassessing the situation and changing its plans about how to deal with the crisis as related to Haitians in the United States and Haitians who may try to come to the United States. The following is the current situaion on these issues.
 
1.  No Haitians are being considered by the U.S. government for resettlement into the United States. In fact, efforts are underway to prevent Haitians from getting in boats and attempting to come to the United States on their own. If any Haitians do make it to the United States, they will most likely be placed in the Krome detention center in Miami or in tent cities nearby and will not be allowed to be resettled. Guantanamo Bay is being prepared to receive those who are picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard on their way to Florida.
 
2.  There is no program for the care of or adoption of Haitian orphans into the United States. A few orphans have been allowed into the country because they lived in American-run orphanages and/or were already in the process of being adopted by Americans. These were children who were orphans before the earthquake. In all disaster situations, children are never sent to another country until there is certainty that their parents and other relatives are not alive. It is possible that in the future there may be a program for the adoption of Haitian orphans, but that would be months away. If such a program was developed, the preferred location for the placement of those orphans would be within Haitian communities in the United States.
 
3.  Haitians living in the United States may now apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). They have only six months (from 1/21/10) to apply for TPS and have to have been in the Unites States as of 1/12/10. Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM) is consulting attorneys and beginning to prepare information to help Disciples Haitians determine whether or not applying for TPS would be a good decision in their individual situations. Church World Service is working to determine which of its refugee resettlement offices could provide legal assistance for Haitians in filling out the proper forms. In the next few weeks, RIM will make available a guide to help Haitians think through their options, understand the requirements of TPS, and know where and how to apply for TPS.
 
The crisis in Haiti is complex, touching on each aspect of the work and witness of Week of Compassion gifts—Relief, Development, and Refugee issues are all at the heart of the long-range response to which we are committed. We will continue to update you on all aspects of our ministry as the relief, refugee and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Thank you so much for your work and generosity. It is truly an honor to partner with each and every one of you.