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Brooklyn Pols Call on Biden to Better Support Haitian Asylum Seekers

New York City politicians have sent a letter to the president asking him to create an easier pathway for Haitians seeking political asylum
Rita Joseph, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and Councilmember Farah N Louis held a press conference Flatbush on Wednesday in response to the assassination of the country's president. Photo: Supplied.

Brooklyn politicians and Haitian community organizations are urging President Joe Biden to create an easier pathway for Haitians seeking political asylum in the United States.

Six elected leaders and ten organizations co-signed and sent a letter to the president, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking them to lift the refuge admission ceiling, temporarily halt deportations and supply food and COVID-19 vaccines to Haiti for humanitarian reasons.

"There is a crisis in Haiti that demands our immediate attention as Americans, and begs the continued action of your leadership," the letter, signed by assemblymembers Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Kimberly Jean-Pierre and Michaelle Solages, Councilmember Farah N. Louis and councilmembers-elect Chi Ossé and Rita Joseph, states.

The letter follows the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, which left the country without clear leadership or a defined line of succession.

"This has created a political vacuum in the nation, in which Haitians fear persecution on account of their political opinions, race, religion and nationality," the letter reads.

The group addes that although they shared the hope of a brighter future for Haiti, they could not guarantee the safety of "our Haitian friends, family and loved ones, we ask that you consider these requests." The group says the U.S is home to more than two million Haitian-Americans, who contribute to the health, prosperity and culture of the country.

Moreover, they add, Haitian-Americans served en masse as health care workers and frontline essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Now is the time to give back to our Haitian-American community. Now is the time to protect those who protected us, by ensuring that the relatives of Haitian-Americans living abroad receive the humanitarian protections necessary to save their lives and livelihoods."

The groups that signed on to the letter are: Little Haiti BK, Inc, Life of Hope, HABNET Chamber of Commerce, FS Nostrand Merchant Association, Haitian American Business Network Haitian American Caucus, Haitian American United Progress, CUNY Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College, Haitian Cultural Exchange and Haitian American Nurses Association.

The letter comes after a group of more than 200 current and former Haitian American elected officials wrote to the Biden administration, requesting an "urgent" meeting to discuss US policy toward Haiti, Caribbean National Weekly reports.