The months leading up to the annual August recess are always very busy ones, most especially in the second session of Congress. This year is no exception. Congress’ hefty agenda the past few months involving health care, the financial sector, and oil spill response has not stopped Congressional leaders in adoption from pursuing introduction and passage of key international adoption measures nor deterred them from fulfilling promises to serve as advocates for adoptive parents hoping to adopt from Guatemala, Russia, Uganda, and Nepal.
Check back over the next 2 weeks for a series of posts focused on individual countries and international adoption in general. Read below for our first post on one of the many initiatives that have been underway on Capitol Hill in recent months.
According to the most recent figures from USCIS, approximately 1300 Haitian children were approved to enter the U.S. as part of the Agency’s post-earthquake humanitarian parole policy. The immigration of these children into the United States has thus far required that USCIS employ a series of policies and procedures most often used when addressing the needs unaccompanied alien children.
The Administration has done everything they can within the existing letter of the law to put these children into the position they would have been had the earthquake never occurred. Motivated by this same goal, Congressman Fortenberry (R-NE) and Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Inhofe (R-OK) introduced legislation entitled “Helping Haitian Immigrants to Immigrate Immediately Act” or the HELP Haiti Act (HR 5283/S. 3411). This bill allows the nearly 1300 children who after the earthquake entered the United States for the purpose of adoption to become legal permanent residents. Without this legislation these children and their families would be subject to a two to four year immigration process and in the interim would be deprived of the benefits of having a permanent status in the United States.
Families who are in the process of adopting these children have already faced issues with adding these children to their health insurance, enrolling in school, and obtaining other benefits which are based on immigration status. This bill passed the House of Representatives on July 20, 2010 and was agreed to by unanimous consent in the Senate on August 4, 2010.