Dem senators urge expansion of policy to bring Haitian orphans

Ten Democratic Senators are pressing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to expand a humanitarian parole policy to let more Haitian orphans into the United States.

The senators, in a letter spearheaded by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), are urging Napolitano to expand the policy to allow orphans without any family in Haiti to live temporarily with close family members in the United States.

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The Department of Homeland Security on Jan. 18 extended the humanitarian parole policy for certain Haitian orphans, particularly those who have begun the process of being adopted by American families.

But the senators estimated that the policy as it stands would only affect 600 to 700 orphans, a small portion of Haitian orphans.

“It is estimated that Haiti was home to more than 350,000 orphans before the devastating January 12 earthquake. Many more children have lost their parents as a result of this catastrophic disaster,” the senators wrote to Napolitano on Friday.

The other signatories of the letter are Sens. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBringing the American election experience to Democratic Republic of the Congo Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Mass.), Benjamin Cardin (Md.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuCNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' CNN's Van Jones: O'Keefe Russia 'nothingburger' video 'a hoax' Trump posts O'Keefe videos on Instagram MORE (La.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (Ill.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (N.Y.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Poll finds little support for Menendez reelection Judge tells Menendez lawyer to 'shut up' MORE (N.J.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (S.D.), Roland Burris (Ill.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowMich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead Report: GOP donors can't get in touch with Kid Rock Kid Rock denies press credentials to Detroit paper MORE (Mich.).

The senators stressed that the humanitarian parole status should only be granted with the permission of the Haitian government and only for orphans that can’t be reunited with family in Haiti. “It is also imperative that close family members are also properly vetted by the U.S. government."

A coalition of House and Senate lawmakers this week pressed the Departments of State, Homeland Security and Defense and the U.S. Agency on International Development to initiate a plan to ensure that all of the 600-700 orphans affected by the recent humanitarian parole policy be evacuated within 10 days. The Jan. 18 humanitarian parole policy allows orphans that have established adoptive relationships with American families to immediately travel to the United States.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Reserve Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command announced Friday that is sending a Civil Liaison Team to assist with humanitarian operations. The team will come from the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion in Miami and includes Haitian Creole-speaking soldiers trained in foreign humanitarian assistance operations.