Members of Congress urge president to protect Caribbean nationals in US after Hurricane Irma

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Representative Eliot Engel (L) and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

WASHINGTON, USA — Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairman emeritus of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA); Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL); Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and 70 others on Tuesday wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to foreign nationals in the United States who are from Hurricane Irma-affected regions in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Irma’s 185 miles-per-hour winds made it the second-fastest recorded hurricane in history. Returning to their homes in the Caribbean in its aftermath would be a serious threat to these individuals’ safety.

“The affected regions clearly meet the criteria for Temporary Protected Status designation. The destruction it has left behind is unprecedented. Charles Fernandez, minister of foreign affairs and international trade for Antigua and Barbuda, has reported that “upwards of 90 percent” of Barbuda has been destroyed. The most recent reports have moved that number closer to 95 percent. 7,000 Dominicans have already been displaced as more than 2,000 houses were destroyed by the hurricane. The casualty toll is slowly rising as deaths have been reported in Barbuda and St Martin. The economies of the affected areas have been completely destroyed and will take years to rebuild,” the members wrote.

The members continued: “Providing nationals of the affected areas with an opportunity to remain temporarily in the United States will contribute to greater stability and significantly aid in the ongoing mission of reconstruction.”

The text of the letter to President Trump follows:

September 12, 2017

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr President,

We write to urge you to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the foreign nationals now in the United States who are from Hurricane Irma-affected regions in the Caribbean.

While Congress and the Administration work to provide relief for those affected by devastation from Irma in our own country, we must also support our friends in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Irma is a storm of unprecedented measure. With maximum wind speeds of 185 miles-per-hour, it is the second-fastest recorded hurricane in history. Requiring those in the United States to return to their countries under the present conditions would be a serious threat to their safety.

The affected regions clearly meet the criteria for Temporary Protected Status designation. The destruction it has left behind is unprecedented. Charles Fernandez, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for Antigua and Barbuda, has reported that “upwards of 90 percent” of Barbuda has been destroyed. The most recent reports have moved that number closer to 95 percent. 7,000 Dominicans have already been displaced as more than 2,000 houses were destroyed by the Hurricane. The casualty toll is slowly rising as deaths have been reported in Barbuda and Saint Martin. The economies of the affected areas have been completely destroyed and will take years to rebuild.

Providing nationals of the affected areas with an opportunity to remain temporarily in the United States will contribute to greater stability and significantly aid in the ongoing mission of reconstruction. We hope you will act as quickly as possible to grant them the protected status they deserve.

Sincerely,

cc: Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Rex Tillerson, Department of State

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