Dear Mr. President:
I write, as President of the United States Catholic Conference, to express our opposition to the forcible repatriation of the Haitians currently seeking to come to the United States.
Persons willing to risk their lives in the dangerous passage from Haiti to this country are not coming for frivolous reasons. They are coming to escape violence and oppression that has, once again, become intolerable. Even if the majority of these desperate people can not demonstrate that they qualify for political asylum, there are other legal remedies available to them, such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which they clearly merit.
The Haitian people have been beset by many tragedies, compounded most recently by the violent overthrow of the first democratically elected government in their history. Returning interdicted Haitians to Haiti at this particular time will only aggravate this already turbulent situation. Since the United States does not recognize the new military government of Haiti, I urge you to suspend the interdiction agreement.
I urge you to express the compassion and welcome to the stranger in need that is so deeply a part of our national tradition. I ask you to authorize a more humane and flexible application of our immigration laws, to continue pressing other regional governments to provide safe haven for more of these refugees, and to halt the repatriation of interdicted Haitian refugees.
With my gratitude for your attention to this and assuring you of my prayers, I remain,
Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Archbishop of Cincinnati