Senator visits Haitian aid center

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited the Haitian National Congress Volunteer Center in Evanston today, where he was briefed on issues in Haiti by Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, a leader in the local Haitian community.

Jean-Baptiste told the senator he believes aid to the island nation, as much as possible, should be funneled through the existing governmental structure on the island. He said he knows that corruption has been a problem in Haiti’s government, but that it makes more sense to work with officials already there, in hopes that will gradually improve the local political environment, rather than to try to create a whole new infrastructure.

He told the senator, and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston, that the U.S. government could aid Haitians during the crisis by expediting decisions on immigration cases and also trying to negotiate with Haitian officials to speed the adoption process for Haitian children orphaned by the earthquake.

The Haitian center is located in a basement office at 1227 Dodge Ave. in Evanston.

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