Two Philadelphia-Area Residents, Including Philadelphia Immigration Lawyer, Advocate for Haitian Refugees

The people of Haiti suffer from unspeakable poverty and deplorable conditions.  Haitian immigrants who reach the United Stated have limited options obtaining the goal of American citizenship.  Two Philadelphia-area residents advocate for the Haitian people, often putting their safety and well-being ahead of their own.

A woman from Lansdowne, Pennsylvania was arrested at the Canadian border while trying to help 12 immigrants from Haiti enter Canada from the United States.  The Canadian Border authorities charged Janet Hinshaw-Thomas with immigrant trafficking.  Although Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas was released on bail, she faces criminal charges, the maximum of which is life in prison if she is convicted.

Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas has long advocated for the rights of immigrants and refugees.  For the last thirty years, she has spearheaded Prime: Ecumenical Commitment to Refugees, an organization that assists refugees in moving to a safer location.

Ms. Hinshaw-Thomas was attempting to relocate the 12 Haitian immigrants into Canada for several reasons.  Perhaps these people had requested political asylum in the U.S. and were denied, which is very likely as asylum is difficult to obtain.   Additionally, in the U.S. Haiti is not one of the seven countries on the list for temporary protected status (TPS.)  If you are from a country with TPS and you are in the U.S. either legally or illegally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will not force you to return to your country of origin.

In Canada, a list of “moratorium countries” is comparable to the United States’ TPS.  Haiti makes the list in Canada, making the country a safer haven for Haitian refugees: the government will not send an illegal immigrant back to Haiti.  Moreover, the Canadian government provides immigrants with basic social services such as housing and healthcare.

Another local Philadelphia resident has committed their time and efforts to Haiti and the fight for the safety of its people and improved conditions from poverty.  Thomas M. Griffin, Esq is a Philadelphia immigration lawyer who has advocated for the people of Haiti for more than a decade.   Mr. Griffin was instrumental in opening a clinic in the poorest city of Port-au-Prince known as the slum of Cite Soleil. Mr. Griffin’s goal was to treat the illnesses and diseases the Haitian people routinely face because of their impoverished lifestyle such as parasites, diarrhea and malaria.  However, the larger goal of the clinic is to educate the people of Haiti on what makes them sick, such as dirty water. Education and awareness is the key to future prevention.

Thomas M. Griffin is a well-known Philadelphia citizenship attorney, human rights investigator and advocate.  He has appeared before Congress as an expert on Haiti.  In addition to being a partner in Philadelphia’s immigration law firm, Surin & Griffin, P.C., and Mr. Griffin is a former Director of the Lamp for Haiti Foundation, a health and human rights clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Mr. Griffin is fluent in Spanish and Haitian Creole.

Read the full story recently published in Philadelphia Weekly.

About the Philadelphia Immigration Law Firm of Surin & Griffin, P.C.

Surin & Griffin, P.C. is a full service Philadelphia immigration law firm helping clients with citizenship and nationality law issues.  Our firm is located in the borough of Center City in Philadelphia but we practice around the globe.  The Philadelphia immigration lawyers of Surin & Griffin, P.C. are multilingual allowing us to help clients throughout the world with their immigration problems.  If you have an immigration problem, call us today at (215) 925-4435 or contact us online.