Airlift Injured Haitians to US Hospitals?

January 14, 2010

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt has proposed “an immediate, ongoing and large airlift of injured Haitians to hospitals across the U.S.”

Haiti’s hospitals are destroyed and bringing adequate medical care to seriously injured people is a daunting logistical challenge. We should continue to send medical aid, water, food and other essentials to Haiti, but bringing injured Haitians to the US for treatment could safe a lot of lives. We would need to act quickly and suspend immigration laws that would slow down such a rescue effort.

Responses to Hugh Hewitt’s suggestion have expressed concerns that Haitians brought to the US in this way would not return to Haiti. Maybe. So what?

Conservatives have legitimately opposed illegal immigration and strengthening our borders. But this is not an immigration issue. It is a humanitarian issue and if we can save more lives by bringing seriously injured Haitians to the US for treatment, saving lives should be our focus at this time.

Conservatives believe in protecting human lives from abortion and euthanasia. Of course, it is impossible to ship anyone in the world that could be saved by American medicine to the US, but the earthquake in Haiti is an unusually large catastrophe and the US is the closest wealthy country.

Hugh Hewitt’s proposal should be judged on whether it can be effective in saving lives in the immediate aftermath of this earthquake.

Other initiatives to airlift people out of Haiti are already getting underway. Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced an airlift program for Haitians today:

The [Canadian] federal government is on the verge of introducing a new humanitarian aid program that could open the door to some of the thousands of Haitians devastated by this week’s devastating earthquake, Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated on Thursday.

Harper made the comments as the government began airlifting Canadians from the Haitian capital.

“That (immigration issue) will be something that the government will be announcing, addressing in the next couple of days,” Harper said after stopping by an Ottawa branch of the Canadian Red Cross with his wife, Laureen, to make a personal donation.

The Miami Herald reports that churches are organizing an airlift of orphaned children out of Haiti:

In a move mirroring Operation Pedro Pan in the 1960s, Catholic Charities and other South Florida immigrant rights organizations are planning an ambitious effort to airlift possibly thousands of Haitian children left orphaned in the aftermath of Tuesday’s horrific earthquake.

“Given the enormity of what happened in Haiti, a priority is to bring these orphaned children to the United States,” Catholic Charities Legal Services executive director Randolph McGrorty said at a news conference in the offices of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Archdiocese of Miami officials and other local organizations already have identified a temporary shelter in Broward County to house the children, McGrorty said.

He also said they had been in contact with the Obama administration to assist in bringing the children from Haiti with humanitarian visas.

Operation Pedro Pan was launched on Dec. 26, 1960, to spirit children out of Fidel Castro’s Cuba as communist indoctrination was spreading into Catholic and private schools.

The Obama administration should adopt Hugh Hewitt’s idea and run with it.

Here are four charities that Hugh Hewitt describes as “excellent, already-operating-in-Haiti Christian relief organizations that could use help right now:”

The Haitian-American Friendship Foundation

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