Thursday, February 18, 2010

UPDATE: Haiti Teleconference

Today PEAR took part in the first hour of a teleconference with USCIS International Operations Division, DHS, DOS and other government agencies to discuss the ongoing process of bringing children into the US on Humanitarian Parole visas.

The primary discussion was effect that resumption of commercial flights will have on getting HP children to the US. Once commercial flights resume on Friday, February 19, the military will have to reduce its flights so as not to compete with the commercial flights. DHS will continue to work with adopting families to secure remaining military flights during the transition period (approximately two weeks) or to locate other private aircraft flights able to escort the children into the US.

Once it becomes necessary to book commercial flights for the children, adopting parents will have to reserve seats for their children and possibly for an adult escort and cover those costs. American Airlines is the only commercial carrier resuming flights. American requires an escort ratio of 2:1 for infants and all children under 15 must be escorted. DHS will work closely with adopting parents to secure the proper number of seats and coordinate timing. Adopting families are discouraged from attempting to fly to Haiti to retrieve the children.

The following is the outline of the process DHS foresees:

1. HP is approved at the Embassy.
2. The child is immediately placed on the prime minister list for travel approval.
3. The Prime Minister will sign the travel approval (this process has slowed down due to other obligations of the Prime Minister but is still occurring).
4. The Embassy will immediately notify parents when the approval is signed and will inform parents of the options available for bringing home their child.
5. If there is no military or private flight available, parents will need to book a flight with American Airlines. The only point of entry the children will be permitted to enter the US is Miami, so all flights must be booked from PaP to Miami. Once a flight is booked, parents will notify the Embassy and the Embassy will secure the proper documents and escort the child to the airport. The Embassy will work with parents on contacting the orphanage or guardian of the child with travel plans and coordinating the process.

The process is malleable at this point as DHS works though the complications this transition may present.

DHS also provided the following information on the process to date:

So far, travel has been authorized for over 800 children. They expect a considerable number of cases to receive travel authorization tomorrow (Friday February 19). DHS is aware of a possible flight via a charitable organization on Friday if the travel authorizations are signed.

DHS anticipated approximately 900 applications and has received 1300. About 5% of the cases reviewed have been found ineligible. DHS still continues to encourage prospective adoptive parents who began the Haitian adoption process prior to the earthquake to review the criteria for eligibility and contact DHS if they feel they have a chance at meeting those criteria.

DHS has shifted from processing groups of children by orphanage to processing individual children as they are ready which has quickened the pace of approvals. Each case is reviewed twice and is given individual care and attention.

In addition to the above information, DHS announced that it will provide a teleconfernce early next week for disseminating information on obtaining citizenship and finalizing adoptions for children who entered the US under Humanitarian Parole. A date and time have not yet been fixed. PEAR will publish this information as soon as we receive it.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

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