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Immigration Daily January 26, 2010
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Haiti Is Not Humanitarian Crisis, It Is Our Crisis

Despite our ever-shrinking, globalized world, neighborhoods still matter. So when something terrible happens to one of our neighbors, it rightly commands our attention and prompts us to action. The tragedy in Haiti is, in this sense, not merely a humanitarian one. It is not merely the crisis of a very poor country whose capital-city-infrastructure has collapsed, and where more than 1% of the population is dead of a series of earthquakes. It is not merely a situation where American troops will once again have to offer police services to Haiti for many years to come, as we have done many times in Haiti's history.

As we have mentioned before, our ties with Haiti run deep, as indeed they do with all of our neighbors. Illustrative of these ties are the factoids that the founder of Chicago was a Haitian immigrant (Jean Baptiste Point du Sable) and that renowned ornithologist and painter John James Audubon was also an immigrant from Haiti. We are sorry to note that one of the first reactions of our government to the Haitian catastrophe was to ask our naval forces to patrol the coasts of Haiti to prevent the desperate from seeking help in America (this continues to be American policy and practice as of this writing). Predictably, the anti-immigrationists are overjoyed at this turn of events, and are loudly cheering Secretary Clinton on in following this inhuman policy, one counter to the usual welcoming and humane record of our armed forces (as we had also predicted, almost 1,000 reserves were activated). When reacting to this national catastrophe that has befallen our poor neighbor off the Florida coast, we must not forget that they sent 750 soldiers to fight with us during the American Revolution. Haiti deserves better behavior from our sailors and marines than the one that this administration has currently ordered.

ILW.COM's response to the Haitian calamity is different from those, like the Red Cross, who are offering humanitarian assistance. The difference is two-fold: (1) we are taking a more long-term view of the situation than most, and (2) we strongly believe that immigration relief is the one large-impact weapon available to America in delivering help where it is most needed.

As to the long term, we believe that while humanitarian efforts (such as search-and-rescue) are surely the humane thing to do, saving 100 people from the rubble does not begin to address the physical injuries of 100,000 nor the long-term relief efforts that will be necessary for the nation of 10,000,000 long after American heart-strings have been fatigued from repeated plucking, and after other international and domestic events have captured the ever-fickle media spotlight. We believe that as the weeks and months ahead unfold, America will get more entangled in the Haitian crisis, not less. Military involvement in Haiti will constrict President Obama's options in Iraq and Afghanistan in the months to come, and the final cost to the US budget in the years to come will be in the range of 100 times the amount that the President initially committed (the initial sum was $100 million). Relief for Haiti will be on our country's radar for much longer than other calamities far away whose refugee consequences we can easily stay away from due to the distances involved. American institutions are reacting to the Haitian crisis, and consistent with the reality of deep ties between the two neighbors, we are seeing large-scale responses, in both effort and time scale. For instance, the Florida Bar has requested that their entire membership of 88,000 lawyers to donate 1 billable hour of time to Haiti relief. As another instance, ILW.COM's not-for-profit seminar on Haitian immigration relief has 3 phone sessions over several months, it is not a quickie feel-good effort. We have no doubt that more such actions will follow and that Americans will rise to the occasion.

As to immigration's role in helping Haiti, we are fortunate as a country that we have an effective counter to the destruction wrought by the forces of nature. Much of the money and effort devoted to humanitarian assistance is often both costly and wasteful. Costly because government-to-government help is not noted for efficiency, and wasteful because significant sums of money in countries such as Haiti end up lining the pockets of corrupt officials instead of helping those suffering. Both of these downsides do not affect remittances sent home by Haitian migrants in the US. Granting TPS to undocumented Haitians is the first step in turbo-charging this armada of micro-relief efforts. However, we believe that Congress will have to take a close look at offering more immigration relief such as dramatically expanding adoptions from Haiti, and providing other special provisions for Haitians to immigrate to the US. Be the future as it may, the current availability of TPS relief puts the immigration bar in a position of real power to effect meaningful change in the lives of the Haitian people. Every Haitian who gets this relief will be helping out many suffering kin. We urge members of the bar to consider doing one low-cost or no-cost TPS case in the months to come. Our not-for-profit seminar ($99 for the entire 3-part series combined) will help those who are unfamiliar with TPS procedures arm themselves with the knowledge necessary to help those suffering in Haiti.

We welcome readers to share their opinion and ideas with us by writing to


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  • Part II: An Overview of the U.S. Immigration System: Nonimmigrant Visas, Immigrant Visas (the "Green Card"), Asylees and Refugees
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The Double-Edged Sword Of Suing A Client
Ed Poll writes "One of the most visible signs of how law firms have been hit by the down economy is the increasing number of news reports about firms suing their clients for nonpayment of bills for legal services."

American Union (AU)
Ruben Botello writes "Since 9/11, the United States and other American nations have been struggling with new economic and political crises, while having to combat terrorism in and outside our respective borders."

Immigrants Of The Week: Rich Little and Emilio Estefan
Greg Siskind writes "Come to think of it, he's still one of the only people most people can name in this niche area of comedy."

To submit an Article for consideration, write to


Neufeld Memo On Haitian TPS And NY Traffic Infractions
USCIS Associate Director Service Center Operations released a memo providing guidance for adjudications of TPS applications and administrative appeals in cases involving aliens convicted of certain minor NY traffic violations.

DHS Releases ESTA FAQs
DHS released FAQs on ESTA, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

USCIS Warns Of Haitian TPS Scams
USCIS issued a fact sheet warning Haitians applying for temporary protected status to be aware of immigration scams.


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Legal Haitian Immigrants Should Be Able To Bring Their Children To US Quickly
On Friday, 34 U.S. senators, including New Jersey Democrats Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, urged the State Department and DHS to go a step further and allow children who have lost their families in Haiti but have close relatives in the United States to move here.

No Visa, No Show For Foreign Performers
When the Children's Theatre's latest show opened Friday in Minneapolis, it featured Twin Cities actors, not the Australian performers originally announced for the play.

US-Bound Fliers Required To Register
Citizens from 35 countries could be barred from boarding US-bound flights starting in March if they don't register online before flying, according to the Homeland Security Department.

Blacksburg Couple's Adoption Caught In Haitian Limbo
Elizabeth and Lily Moore wait together in Haiti for the U.S. State Department to clear the child's immigration visa, one of the last pieces of a three-year adoption process that was nearing completion less than a week before the earthquake


Readers can share professional announcements (up to 100-words at no charge), email: To announce your event, see here

Immigration Event
USCIS invites you to join a teleconference to discuss the process of registering for Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals. We will review the most frequently asked questions and then take additional questions from participants. January 27th, 2010 at 2:00pm EST, to join the call please dial: Number: 1-888-324-8190, passcode: 8174628. If you have any questions, email Mary Herrmann, at or call 202.272.1213.


Readers can share comments, email: (up to 300-words). Past correspondence is available in our archives

Dear Editor:
Scott T. Decker's letter (01/25/10 ID) hits the nail right on the head and I totally agree. For the reasons mentioned in his letter, and more, immigration reform must come and it must come now. And I don't mean CIR (buzzword for Amnesty). Congress should first reform our entire antiquated and disjointed immigration laws. Once that is done, they can address "CIR" in separate legislation. If we don't do it that way, it will never get done, and that's for sure.

David D. Murray, Esq.
Newport Beach, CA

An Important disclaimer! The information provided on this page is not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers must not act upon any information without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney. Copyright 1995-2010 American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM. Send correspondence and articles to Letters and articles may be edited and may be published and otherwise used in any medium. The views expressed in letters and articles do not necessarily represent the views of ILW.COM.

Publisher:  Sam Udani    Legal Editor:  Michele Kim                        ISSN:   1930-062X