US Haitian elected officials request 'urgent' meeting with Biden

US Haitian elected officials request 'urgent' meeting with Biden

A group of more than 200 current and former Haitian American elected officials are reaching out to the Biden administration and requesting an “urgent” meeting to discuss U.S. policy toward the Caribbean nation in the wake of the assassination of the country’s president.

In a letter sent Friday to Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden walks fine line with Fox News Blinken to travel to India, Kuwait next week Biden announces delegation to attend Haitian president's funeral MORE and obtained by The Hill, the National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON) requests a briefing on the administration’s approach to Haiti amid the country's political turmoil, ongoing plague of gang violence and struggle against COVID-19.

The group said they are “weary and frustrated” over the lack of engagement from the Biden administration on the issue, despite an established relationship addressing the president’s decision in May to extend for 18 months Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians residing in the U.S.

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“We have been working to build a relationship with the Biden administration vis-a-vis its foreign policy towards Haiti. While we are pleased with President BidenJoe BidenHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Conflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package 'remains to be seen' MORE’s extension of TPS, we grow weary and frustrated with the lack of communication of the ongoing instability in Haiti,” reads the letter, signed by NHAEON Chairperson Alix Desulme.

“NHAEON members are the elected representatives closest to the Haitian community and have a keen understanding of the dynamics in Haiti and its impact on our communities. We are ready to work with you to add value to the trajectory of U.S. Foreign policy towards Haiti. To this end, we are requesting immediate scheduling of a briefing with your office on the aforementioned issues.”

The organization, which was founded in 2009, includes Haitian American elected officials from across the country, but largely concentrated in Florida, New York and New Jersey. The elected positions range from school board members, city council members, attorneys general, mayors and state representatives, to name a few. Desulme is a council member in North Miami.

In an interview with The Hill on Friday, Desulme said that NHAEON members are expected to meet with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday, in a previously scheduled meeting to discuss ways to assist Haiti’s response to the pandemic.

NHAEON has met with Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S., but Desulme expressed frustration over the lack of engagement from the Biden team.

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“We’re going to send this letter to the administration and see,” he said.

The Biden administration has stressed its commitment to helping Haiti amid its current crises, offering investigative assistance in the aftermath of the July 7 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and providing technical security advice on helping safeguard the nations critical infrastructure. The administration has also surged $5 million toward efforts by the Haitian National Police to strengthen community resilience in resisting gang violence.

On July 14, the administration delivered 500,000 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to Haiti, the first shipment of vaccines the country has received.

Since January, the administration has committed $75.5 million in bilateral health and development assistance.