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Klobuchar pushes to speed up Haitian adoptions

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In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar on Friday called on the U.S. government to exercise emergency authorities to allow Haitian children who are in the process of being adopted by American families to come to the U.S.

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If exercised, the emergency authority could be a boon to families such as the Sperrs. Tamela and Don Sperr, of Donnelly, are in the process of adopting to Haitian girls. They left Haiti on Monday, one day before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated parts of the island country.

In her letter, Klobuchar urged that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in coordination with the State Department, grant Humanitarian Parole to all U.S. families applying for entry to the U.S. on behalf of their prospective children during this period of emergency.

Klobuchar's office has been working to help several Minnesota families with pending adoptions in Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck the island on January 12, 2010.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Clinton and Secretary Napolitano:

As you are well aware, the recent earthquake in Haiti has been a catastrophe of record proportions. The United States and the international community have acted swiftly to address the pressing humanitarian needs of the Haitian people, and I commend you for your continued efforts on behalf of those affected by the emergency.

Unfortunately, the most helpless of Haiti's people - its children - are among those most in need of our help. Hundreds of American families began the process of adopting Haitian children long before the earthquake and now are deeply concerned about both the well-being of their prospective children as well as the path forward for bringing them to the United States. My office has been working with several Minnesota families with regard to pending adoptions in Haiti. While many of these families have been able to confirm that their children are safe, they are still unable to bring them home.

It is my understanding that the Immigration and Nationality Act gives the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in coordination with the State Department, the authority to grant Humanitarian Parole to an individual under certain conditions, allowing this individual to temporarily enter the U.S. and then complete the necessary remaining paperwork for full legal entry. While Humanitarian Parole is typically used sparingly in cases of compelling emergency, I believe the magnitude of this disaster clearly warrants broader application of this policy. Therefore, I urge you to use your authority to grant Humanitarian Parole to all U.S. families applying for entry to the United States on behalf of their prospective children during this period of emergency. I further request that you develop a plan as soon as possible to oversee the safe departure from Haiti and arrival to the United States of these adopted children caught in the middle of this disaster.

Again, I want to thank you for your tireless efforts to aid Haiti. I look forward to working with you to expedite the adoption process so that loving American families can finally welcome their children home.

Sincerely,

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

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