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US grants humanitarian parole to Haiti orphans

[JURIST] The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] announced on Monday that the US will allow Haitian orphans into the country [press release] to receive needed care in the aftermath of last week's earthquake [JURIST news archive]. The humanitarian parole policy [USCIS backgrounder], which grants individuals temporary admission to the US in emergency cases, will apply to certain groups of Haitian orphans [fact sheet], including those in the process of being adopted by Americans. US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] described the policy:

We are committed to doing everything we can to help reunite families in Haiti during this very difficult time. While we remain focused on family reunification in Haiti, authorizing the use of humanitarian parole for orphans who are eligible for adoption in the United States will allow them to receive the care they need here.

DHS is working with the State Department [official website] to issue immigrant visas and other documents on an individual basis to children who qualify. Groups of Haitian children are expected to arrive in the US [Miami Herald report] as early as Tuesday.

Last week, DHS also granted Temporary Protected Status [JURIST report] to Haitian nationals already present in the US when the earthquake hit and allowed them to continue living and working in the US for the next 18 months regardless of their immigration status. On January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake [USGS backgrounder] caused massive damage to property and infrastructure in Haiti. The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti [official website] has said that up to 50 percent of buildings [statement, PDF] have been destroyed or damaged, including the presidential palace, the UN Mission headquarters, and the main prison, allowing nearly 4,000 inmates to escape [JURIST report]. Thousand of US military troops have been deployed to assist the Haitian police and international peacekeepers as they confront rising lawlessness [JURIST report] in the country. Haitian government officials estimate [Al Jazeera report] the death toll to be as high as 100,000 to 200,000.

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