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November 11, 2021

Pressley, Warren, Congressional Delegation Call on Office of Refugee Resettlement to Coordinate with Massachusetts to Assist Haitian Families

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Lori Trahan (D-MA-03) and Jake Auchincloss (D-MA-04) sent a letter to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) calling on them to coordinate with the government agencies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assist newly arrived families from Haiti.  

“Massachusetts is home to one of the largest Haitian communities in the United States. As such, it is a fitting destination for resettlement of Haitians who are seeking refuge in this country.  Many Haitians are fleeing life-threatening conditions in their home country, “wrote the lawmakers. 

In the past year, Haiti has faced a multitude of crises — the country has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August, and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July. Due to the extreme instability and the large epidemic of gang violence that continues to affect many Haitian communities, there has been a significant increase in the number of Haitian migrants seeking asylum at the southern border. Massachusetts is home to the third-largest Haitian population in America and many of the migrants who have come to the U.S. are settling in Massachusetts due to the strong Haitian diaspora.  

“We encourage you to do all you can to ensure that the process of resettling Haitians in Massachusetts proceeds smoothly,” the Congressional delegation wrote. 

In the letter, the lawmakers ask ORR to provide the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services with information regarding the number of Haitians expected to arrive in the state, the timeline for their arrival, and clarification on whether the arriving individuals are eligible for ORR benefits based on various immigration statuses. The lawmakers also ask whether ORR will issue supplemental funding to meet emergency housing and social support needs for entrants.  

In October, Rep. Pressley issued a statement on the civil rights complaint filed by Haitian families demanding a federal investigation into the heinous actions perpetrated by federal officials at the border.

In September, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07) led 54 of their colleagues on a letter calling on the Biden Administration to immediately halt deportations to Haiti and provide humanitarian parole protections for those seeking asylum. The lawmakers’ letter followed the Administration’s resumption of deportation flights to Haiti as thousands of Haitian migrants continue to await an opportunity to make an asylum claim at the border. 

Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues on the House Oversight Committee in demanding answersregarding the inhumane treatment of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, by Border Patrol agents on horseback and pushing to Biden Administration to end the ongoing use and weaponization of Title 42.

Massachusetts is home to the third largest Haitian diaspora community in the country, with approximately 46,000 Haitians and Haitian-Americans living across the state and over half in the Boston metropolitan area. Additionally, Massachusetts is home to more than 4,700 Haitians with Temporary Protected Status. 

In May, on Haitian Flag Day, Reps. Pressley, Levin, Clarke and Demings announced the formation of the House Haiti Caucus, a Congressional caucus dedicated to pursuing a just foreign policy that puts the needs and aspirations of the Haitian people first. 

In July, the lawmakers issued a statement condemning the assassination of President Moïse and calling for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to Haiti and the Haitian people. Later that month, the lawmakers wrote to DHS Secretary Mayorkas calling on him to take a series of steps to support the Haitian diaspora following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.