How to help Haiti

…contact the White House and tell them that you support granting Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS) immediately.

TPS is a form of temporary humanitarian immigration relief given to nationals of countries that have suffered severe disasters, natural or man-made. (For example, El Salvador got TPS was after the country was hit by a terrible earthquake in 2001, Honduras after Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and Burundi, Liberia, Sudan, and Somalia were designated because of ongoing armed conflicts.)

Once a country has been given TPS, its nationals who are in the United States can apply for work authorization (a very useful thing to have if, say, one needs to send money home to family members in need of medical care or a house that has not been reduced to rubble), can't be deported or put into immigration detention (also quite handy if you're trying to work and send money home), and can apply for travel authorization, which allows them to visit their home country and return to the US, even if they wouldn't otherwise have a visa that would allow them back into the country (incredibly important if you have loved ones who have been badly hurt and need to visit them, or if you need to go home to attend funerals).

Designating Haiti for TPS status would provide an immediate, tremendously valuable benefit to Haitian immigrants in the United States. But, more importantly it would benefit their loved ones who remain in Haiti and are in desperate need of their assistance.

That's Amanda Taub.  Chris Blattman agrees.  Here is a relevant Michael Clemens talk.  Another idea is cancel Haiti's debt.


TPS may be the best solution. I don't know any evaluation of the effectiveness of moving NO people to Texas and other locations after Katrina, but a similar movement could be a good solution.

I was thinking the same thing and didn't know there was a government program for freedom of migration.

You asked why Haiti is poor. Is siphoning off people willing to create a new life going to help Haiti?

A halfway house type operation would be helpful. I guess we already have one of those too. We used to call it Florida. Now it seems to be called The Mexican border. Maybe the new one we could call Haiti.

Yeah, Matt, that's just crazy. Who knows which faction Haitian immigrants will support?

I am all in favor of emergency action to help Haiti in the short term. But solving Haiti's problems in the long term is a whole different matter. If TPS is truly temporary, and it helps Haiti during the emergency, then it is a good idea.

But you have to wonder what TPS could really do in the short term, besides the obvious benefit of not sending people back to Haiti for a short while.

How much money TPS will really send back to Haiti, and if what is sent will be more beneficial to all than all the government and NGO aid that will be flowing in there, are good public policy questions.

Grant blanket amnesty to Haitians who are in the USA illegally, and missed the earthquake entirely, on the off-chance that they really want to send money back home, but their immigration status is affecting their ability to do so?

Anyone else have any useless ideas that make them feel better about themselves?

Done. Thanks for this suggestion.

Marc: How does this play in the Carribean, which has regular hurricane losses?

Barandiaran: I can't comment on the effectiveness for the NO people, but for the Houston people the results were pretty negative. We imported a lot of crime, and the sentiment among locals is that we won't be so generous next time.

anon - You may believe that, but that is not the posturing the US has presented since the end of WW2. This is Pax Americana and it works because we are there when disaster happens. We aren't the best at it and it does directly cost us a lot, but I'm very happy with the results. Our lives would be intrinsically different if that were not the case. WW3, Pax Sovietus, a new era of revolution - counter-revolution, who knows where we would be. But it would not look like this if we had not taken on this role.


The Caribbean does have regular hurricane activity, just like Florida. That doesn't mean you can't insure it. You also don't forgive debt, for example, because a Cat 2 makes landfall. Common reinsurance transactions, especially in the cat bond markets, do not tie directly to indemnity. They are parametric: 7.0 or higher centered within 200 miles of point X, Y latitude and longitude for a quake is fine. For hurricanes, parametric work off of sustained wind speeds at numerous monitoring stations weighted in certain ways.

Look at for an idea of what's going on now. CCRIF buys high layer (insurance lingo for not very likely to happen) disaster coverage for it's members. They buy in bulk, with various different (albeit not dramatically different) risks, which gets them better pricing than they'd get individually. (Call it an Obama style insurance buying group;-))

So, US lends money to country X next year for whatever reason. Either loans could specify parameters, or lending nation could behind the scenes simply say "if an event this bad happens, we'll likely forgive the debt, so let's buy insurance."

Of course, after the fact, someone is certain to say "Well, the US just made a pile of dough because that country was blown off the map, they're heartless pigs." That's a PR problem. I'm not a PR guy!

Just don't forget to put a cover sheet on that TPS report.

Thanks for the article on how to help Haiti. I am sure that by now UNO would also be helping them.

Thanks for your thoughts geared towards the Haiti situation. I have made my donations and hope many can follow. Many of us are heartstruck.

What a disaster what ha penned in Haiti, I really hope the situation got better since the earthquake stroke....

If an active market developed for these exposures, developed governments could over-insure these risks, thereby actually pre-committing recovery dollars post catastrophe, at more attractive prices to the donating country's taxpayers.

Well This is Pax Americana and it works because we are there when disaster happens.Thanks for sharing with us...

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