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Oberstar asks Obama to allow Haitians to remain in U.S.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Jim Oberstar has drafted a letter to the White House asking that Haitians in the United States be allowed to stay here until the country is safe to return to, regardless of when their current visas may expire.

“Thousands of Haitians were visiting our country as students, researchers and tourists when the earthquake hit,” Oberstar said in a statement. “Now, they can only watch the tragedy unfold in their country with grief and frustration. Conditions there are so bad they couldn’t return to Haiti if they wanted to. We can certainly extend them the courtesy of allowing them to stay in the U.S. until it is safe to return to their homes.” 

A similar request was made of the Bush administration in 2008 after the island of Hispaniola, the western half of which is the country of Haiti, was hit by four hurricanes and a tropical storm within three weeks. That request was not granted.

Oberstar spokesman John Schadl said the letter is being circulated among House members today for other signatures and will be sent to the White House tonight.