UPDATE 1/15/2010 - 5:30 PM EST: The Secretary just announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. This is a historic disaster, and TPS will allow eligible Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months. This designation is part of the Administration's continuing efforts to support Haiti's recovery, and will protect Haitians who would otherwise be endangered by returning home.
From the Secretary's statement:
"At this moment of tragedy in Haiti it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere. But attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation. The international community has rallied to deliver relief to Haiti. Much has already arrived and much more is on the way. The Haitians are resilient and determined and their role in addressing this crisis in their homeland will be essential to Haiti's future.
It is important to note that TPS will apply only to those individuals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after January 12, 2010 will not be eligible for TPS and will be repatriated.
Haitians in the U.S. who are eligible to apply for TPS should go to http://www.uscis.gov/ or call USCIS toll-free at (800) 375-5283.”
The department continues to stand up assets as the situation in Haiti develops and the extent of the devastation is more fully realized. The Secretary recorded the following message on the disaster and the department's response in the aftermath:
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As we mentioned yesterday, The United States Coast Guard has deployed four cutters - the Forward, Mohawk, Valiant and Tahoma - to Haiti to render assistance. They are joined by two C-130 Hercules fixed wing aircraft conducting over flights and patrols, and two Coast Guard helicopters are forward deployed in the area to provide rescue or other assistance. The Coast Guard and FEMA remain in close contact with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (the U.S. entity tasked with coordinating U.S. efforts), as the situation develops. We'll keep you updated on the operational details as we have them.
How You Can Help
The White House has set up the following site for individuals who wish to donate money, goods, and services to the relief effort, and to get information on the entire federal response to this unspeakable disaster.
You can also visit usaid.gov, the lead federal agency coordinating the relief efforts, for updates.
We've also received an outpouring of goodwill and requests from individuals wishing to offer their personal assistance to the relief effort. We commend anyone who is willing to travel to help the people of Haiti. However, we must remind everyone that we cannot permit any personally identifiable information to be posted in the comment section of the blog. This means email addresses, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and social security numbers. Please visit the White House website above to find out how you can help those affected by this disaster.