Immigration from and deportation to Haiti has been a hot-button issue for decades. It's about to get white hot.
The crisis in Haiti is now an urgent matter of establishing life-sustaining resources, law and order, and search and rescue efforts. As horrific as the current crisis is, the next phase will be equally complex but arguably more controversial for United States policymakers. How will the United States -- a country that had monumental border issues waiting in the winds before the Haiti earthquake -- address the issue of, potentially, hundreds of thousands of Haitian refugees?
As reported by the Washington Times, this question is going to be an aftershock of political discourse:
Americans are already pouring humanitarian aid into Haiti, but the next question for President Obama will be whether to grant temporary legal residence to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and legal visitors from Haiti.
Already looming as the next big item for the Obama administration, immigration reform was the third stool of the Obama agenda. Cap and Trade came and went (and lingers), health care reform is about to explode with the special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday, and then it will be full-throttle debate on immigration reform.
The United States grants temporary protected status to several countries and can extend that status to others. Haiti is one of the countries that has sought for, but been denied such status. How will President Obama deal with the permanency issues of that status, especially in the wake of the Haitian earthquake?
"I don't think there's going to be a lot of argument over whether we should halt deportations for Haitian illegal aliens. The question is how do we make sure this doesn't become a permanent amnesty, which is essentially what it's been for everybody else who's ever gotten it," he said. Mr. Krikorian said temporary protected status would grant a reprieve to 30,000 Haitians who have deportation orders, as well as an unknown number of others who are in the U.S. illegally or on legal temporary visas.
Whether this helps or hinders one or the other side of the coming debate on illegal immigration remains to be seen. It will definitely add fuel to the fires of each side.
However, despite the devastation in Haiti, we still have to protect our borders and secure our citizens from those who continually attempt to come through our borders in an effort to do us harm. That door is about to be stressed and strained to an extreme degree. It must not become an opening for terrorist groups to get a foot, a leg, or worse in. To think they don't sniff out opportunities to infiltrate our country with every waking breath, is to be living in a different time.
We need to be awake and vigilant throughout the coming debate. It will likely get incredibly messy.
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