Large scale disasters have many complex policy consequences. JCPA, along side our partners and member agenceis, is committed to addressing the federal policy issues that affect the response and recovery to the Earthquake in Haiti.
Over the last few days, Congress has begun to address several issues related to the Haitian quake. The first is a bill, H.R. 4462, would allow Americans to write off donations made for aid in Haiti between Jan. 11 and March 1, on their 2009 tax returns. Congress has enacted similar laws in the past to encourage charitable donations -- notably, in 2005, after a tsunami devastated parts of South Asia. To see the full bill, click here.
A second bill, S.2949 would provide up to $25 million in Fiscal Year 2010 for a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) program which repatriates U.S. citizens from foreign countries. Repatriation assistance provides temporary assistance to citizens and their dependents who are identified by the Department of State as needing to return from a foreign country to the U.S., but do not have the means to do so. To see the full bill, click here.
Officials estimate that the January 12th earthquake in Haiti will cause at least 50,000 causalities make another 300,000 people homeless. The need in Haiti is critical.
Currently, the most effective way to assist the aid effort is to donate to funds.
Shortly before the earthquake in Haiti, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton outlined a new path for US international development efforts and particularly USAID (United States Agency for International Development). She spoke about providing additional resources to USAID and building the agency into the world’s leading global development institution.
After the earthquake, President Obama insisted that the United States government develop a coordinated response to the disaster. He placed Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, at the helm of this effort. This is the first major crisis for USAID in the Obama Administration. The response to Secretary Clinton’s vision for international development in our foreign policy will be determined by how USAID performs in Haiti over the next few months.
The Crisis in Haiti touches on our foreign policy priorities and relations with other nations. The United States has now taken the lead in some of the relief efforts and is operating the airport in Port-au-Prince. International institutions, like the United Nations, will become increasingly important and will undoubtedly lead the long-term rebuilding efforts.
Our foreign policy will be affected by our work in Haiti. Nations around the world will be reminded of the United States commitment to humanitarian missions.
Currently, there are between 100,000 and 200,000 undocumented Haitian immigrants in the United States. 30,000 Haitians are in the process of being repatriated. However, the earthquake in Haiti has complicated those efforts.
On January 15th, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano gave Temporary Protect Status (TPS) to the undocumented Haitians within the United States. TPS confers temporary immigration status for its designees. It does not allow its designees to remain permanently in the United States, although TPS may be renewed and extended as needed. In addition, TPS would not allow Haitians seeking refuge to enter the United States.
TPS was established by Congress in order to protect nationals of designated countries who are temporarily unable to return home safely because of ongoing armed conflicts, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. The United States granted TPS to nationals of El Salvador following an earthquake and to Nicaragua and Honduras following hurricanes.