Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

U.S. Immigration Policy on Haitian Migrants


Ruth Ellen Wasem
Specialist in Immigration Policy

The environmental, social, and political conditions in Haiti have long prompted congressional interest in U.S. policy on Haitian migrants, particularly those attempting to reach the United States by boat. While some observers assert that such arrivals by Haitians are a breach in border security, others maintain that these Haitians are asylum seekers following a decades old practice of Haitians coming by boat without legal immigration documents. Migrant interdiction and mandatory detention are key components of U.S. policy toward Haitian migrants, but human rights advocates express concern that Haitians are not afforded the same treatment as other asylum seekers.

The devastation caused last year by the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti led Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States at the time of the earthquake. The scale of current humanitarian crisis—estimated thousands of Haitians dead and reported total collapse of the infrastructure in the capital city of Port au Prince—resulted in this TPS announcement on January 15, 2010.

Secretary Napolitano gave humanitarian parole to Haitian children who were legally confirmed as orphans eligible for intercountry adoption by the government of Haiti and who were in the process of being adopted by U.S. residents prior to the earthquake. P.L. 111-293, the Help HAITI Act of 2010, authorizes the DHS Secretary to adjust to legal permanent residence (LPR) status those Haitian orphans who were granted parole from January 18, 2010, through April 15, 2010.

Those Haitians who are deemed Cuban-Haitian Entrants are among the subset of foreign nationals who are eligible for federal benefits and cash assistance. Those Haitians who are newly arriving legal permanent residents, however, are barred from the major federal benefits and cash assistance for the first five years after entry. The Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 4899, P.L. 111-212), includes funding to cover additional costs for federal benefits and cash assistance resulting from Haitian evacuees.

According to the U.S. Department of State (DOS), there were 54,716 Haitians who had approved petitions to immigrate to the United States at the time of the earthquake and who were waiting for visas to become available. Advocates for Haitians continue to request that Secretary Napolitano give humanitarian parole to those Haitians with approved petitions for visas. Proponents of expediting the admission of Haitians with family in the United States maintain that it would relieve at least some of the humanitarian burden in Haiti and would increase the remittances sent back to Haiti to provide critical help as the nation tries to rebuild. Those opposed to expediting the admission of Haitians assert that it would not be in the national interest, nor would it be fair to other foreign nationals waiting to reunite with their families.

More broadly, there are concerns that the crisis conditions in Haiti—most recently, the outbreak of cholera and the unexpected return of deposed dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier— may trigger mass migration from the island. Agencies within DHS that are the leads in handling a potential mass migration include the U.S. Coast Guard (interdiction); Customs and Border Protection (apprehensions and inspections); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (detention and removal); and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (credible fear determinations). The balancing of DHS’s border security and immigration control responsibilities during an ongoing humanitarian crisis poses a challenge.


Date of Report: January 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: RS21349
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 111th Congress

Andorra Bruno, Coordinator
Specialist in Immigration Policy

Karma Ester
Information Research Specialist

Margaret Mikyung Lee
Legislative Attorney

Alison Siskin
Specialist in Immigration Policy

Ruth Ellen Wasem
Specialist in Immigration Policy


The Speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader of the 111th Congress pledged to take up comprehensive immigration reform legislation, the most controversial piece of which concerns unauthorized aliens in the United States. Although the 111th Congress did not take up a comprehensive immigration bill, it did consider a narrower DREAM Act proposal to legalize the status of certain unauthorized alien students. On December 8, 2010, the House approved a version of the DREAM Act as an amendment to an unrelated bill, the Removal Clarification Act of 2010 (H.R. 5281). A cloture motion in the Senate to agree to the House DREAM Act amendment failed on a 55-41 vote on December 18, 2010.

The 111
th Congress also considered other immigration issues and enacted a number of targeted immigration provisions. It passed legislation (P.L. 111-8, P.L. 111-9, P.L. 111-68, P.L. 111-83) to extend the life of several immigration programs—the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system, the Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, the Conrad State J-1 Waiver Program, and the special immigrant visa for religious workers—until September 30, 2012. Among the other subjects of legislation enacted by the 111th Congress were border security (P.L. 111-5, P.L. 111-32, P.L. 111-83, P.L. 111-230, P.L. 111-281, P.L. 111-376), refugees (P.L. 111-8, P.L. 111-117), and Haitian migrants (P.L. 111-212, P.L. 111-293).

This report discusses these and other immigration-related issues that have received legislative action or are of significant congressional interest. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations are addressed in CRS Report R40642, Homeland Security Department: FY2010 Appropriations, and, for the most part, are not covered here.



Date of Report: January 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: R40848
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.