New Haitian Orphans in Limbo
|An unidentified Coast Guard crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma provides medical aid to an evacuated Haitian refugee Jan. 18, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo.|
South Florida officials and Catholic Church leaders are proposing an airlift of Haitian orphans into the state, similar to the “Pedro Pan” evacuation of Cuban children in the 1960s.
If federal officials approve the airlift, the Diocese in St. Petersburg plans to play a leading role.
The head of St. Petersburg’s Catholic Charities, Frank Murphy, has received three calls in less than a day from families wanting to take in a Haitian orphan.
The U.S. government has granted conditional entry into the country to Haitian children who were waiting for adoption before the earthquake.
Murphy is hopeful the State Department will grant similar status to newly orphaned Haitian children.
“Once they figure out how many orphans they have and the ability of that country to deal with them…I think the State Department will grant humanitarian visas and start arranging the movement of some of those children into the United States where they can get the right kind of support,” he said.
Murphy is optimistic that will come in the next couple of weeks. It’s still not clear whether children brought to the U.S. would stay here permanently, or eventually be returned to Haiti.
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