A Haitian boy sits outside tents at a camp in Port-au-Prince set up for people displaced from their homes.
When the January 12th earthquake left tens of thousands of Haitians in abject despair, South Florida played a prominent role in rescue and recovery efforts in the Carribean nation. Now, North Miami mayor Andre Pierre is extending a special invitation.
"North Miami is inviting them to settle in our city," Pierre exclaimed.
The U.S. has already accepted immigration visa petitions for 55,000 Haitians waiting to be reunited with their familes. The group is comprised of parents, spouses and children of American citizens or legal residents living in the U.S. They remain on a waiting list that could last for years.
A few weeks ago, at the U.S. Mayors Conference, Pierre was the chief sponsor of a resolution that passed unaimously, calling on President Obama to speed up the process. Pierre empathically pointed out the new immigrants would not need the government's help to settle in America because they will have the support of immediate family members.
However, with fears of a double dip recession and unemployement hovering around 10 percent, some like Pablo Montero of North Miami aren't sure this is the right time for an influx of immgrants. Although, he is quick to point out he has "nothing against them coming here."
If admitted, an estimated 10,000 Haitians will settle in North Miami according to Pierre, a Haitian immigrant himself. He says they would be able to send cash back to relatives living in the earthquake-ravaged country.
Since the conference, Pierre says he's contacted the White House and the Department of Homeland Security. He is still waiting on a response.