Congresswoman Jackson Lee Travels To Haiti
February 12, 2010

Supporters of  Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee held a campaign fundraiser for her Friday night, but she was too busy to make an appearance.

The Congresswoman was actually thousands of miles away getting a first hand look at the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti.

Earlier in the week,  Jackson Lee announced that she was working with Houston pastor George Foreman to assist the Americans who were detained for allegedly trying to smuggle 33 Haitian children across the Dominican Republic border.

Below is a brief overview of Jackson Lee’s trip sent to 2 On The Beat by her political campaign spokeswoman Sue Davis: 

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee heads to Haiti

Houston Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee joined a 12-member congressional delegation for a whirlwind one-day visit to Haiti today for what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described as an assessment of “ongoing reconstruction efforts ahead of the U.S. Congress considering long term assistance” to the earthquake damaged nation.

Jackson Lee, a veteran member of Congress elected in 1994, has visited Haiti in the past.

The delegation, led be Pelosi, included 11 Democrats – including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson – and one Republican – Florida Sen. George LeMieux.

The lawmakers were scheduled to meet with Haitian President René Préval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive as well as visit aid distribution sites and medical facilities.

Meetings with representatives from the U.S. military, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations and humanitarian organizations also were planned.

Pelosi said it was “crucial that the House and Senate — on a bipartisan basis — have the opportunity to examine” relief efforts that are underway.

The Obama administration has pledged assistance to help rebuild Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people.

Jackson Lee, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Children’s Caucus, said she wanted to “express my condolences to the people and leadership of Haiti as they work to rebuild their country and livelihoods in the wake of an immeasurable tragedy.”

The lawmaker said she was seeing “the remarkable job that our multiagency team is doing to assist the people of Haiti.”

Jackson Lee said it was important for Congress to “have the full picture of the challenges facing Haiti’s road to recovery,” adding that she regarded Congress’ response “an opportunity to help our neighbor and ally fulfill its potential as a stable and prosperous nation.”

Senator Cornyn Concerned About Haitian Children
January 19, 2010

 (This is a news release from Senator Cornyn’s office)

Sen. Cornyn, Colleagues Urge Secretary Clinton to Give Haitian Orphans High Priority Following Earthquake Disaster 


WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined a Bipartisan group of 45 Members of the Senate and House in sending a letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urging her to give Haitian orphans high priority in all U.S. evacuation and relief plans. Senator Cornyn and the group also asked Secretary Clinton to coordinate with U.S. faith-based and private relief partners in assisting orphans, and to designate a coordinator to lead this overall effort: 

“These children are already among the most vulnerable and in circumstances like these, find themselves at even greater risk,” Sen. Cornyn said. “We must make their evacuation and relief plans, as well as expediting any pending or prospective adoptions between Haitian children and their matching U.S. citizen adoptive parents, our highest priority.”

Over the course of the last week, Sen. Cornyn’s office has been working with at least four Texas families who were in the process of adopting Haitian children. Anyone seeking assistance in this matter should visit and fill out the appropriate forms so that Sen. Cornyn’s office may go to work on their behalf.

The full text of the letter is below and attached.

January 19, 2010

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street N.W.

Washington D.C., 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

First and foremost, we would like to thank you for your outstanding leadership in coordinating the United States’ humanitarian response to Tuesday’s tragic earthquake in Haiti. This is one of the greatest human tragedies in recent history. We understand that the focus of immediate efforts is to ensure that all who survived this terrible disaster have access to life sustaining necessities such as health care, food, water and shelter.

As you begin to construct the next phase of the United States’ and international response, we urge you to consider the needs of orphan children. As you well know, these children are already among the most vulnerable and in circumstances like these, are at even greater risk. Our experience has been that a natural disaster of this magnitude can not only have serious effects on children previously orphaned, but sadly, also be the cause for additional children to find themselves displaced or orphaned.

As we understand, there were approximately 20,000 children living in Haiti’s 187 licensed

orphanages prior to this disaster. The vast majority of these institutions are located in Port-Au-

Prince and the surrounding region. In a small percentage of cases, the children are eligible for

international adoption and have been matched with American families.

We appreciate the announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that humanitarian parole will be offered to children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for intercountry adoption by the Government of Haiti and are being adopted by U.S. citizens and to children who have been previously identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption and have been matched to U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.

With this in mind, we respectfully request that you give every consideration to employing some or all of the following options for assisting Haiti’s orphaned children:

  • Ensure that these children are a high priority in all U.S. evacuation and relief plans.
  • Coordinate with U.S. based faith based and private relief partners to help channel

appropriate levels of relief to orphan children.

  • Identify opportunities for temporary care and shelter within Haiti or Haiti’s border countries where these children could be safely evacuated.
  • Develop a coordinated exit strategy that guarantees the safety and timely removal of these Haitian orphans and delivery to their adoptive families in the U.S. Specifically, your leadership is needed to authorize an authority to lead this effort and to ensure that security and support is provided for these children and for this coordinated effort.
  •  Identify opportunities for orphan children to receive temporary care and shelter within the U.S.


Attached please find a list of orphanages we know to be in the affected region, although this list is not exhaustive. We hope that this information and the above recommendations are useful as your team devises a course of action. If we can be of any further assistance to you on this or other matters of mutual concern, please do not hesitate to let us know.



My Encounter With A Former President and First Lady!
January 16, 2010

On the same day their son, President Bush #43,  signed up to help the relief effort in Haiti, I had a close encounter with former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

I was doing my usual Saturday shopping when I saw the former first couple and their secret service team leaving the River Oaks Movie Theater.

As always, they were gracious to the people who said hello and asked to take their pictures.

As their security team stopped traffic on West Gray near Shepherd, I thought about asking Mr. and Mrs. Bush a few questions – What movie did you see? Do you give it a thumbs up or thumbs down? What do you think about your son teaming up with President Obama and former President Bill Clinton to begin a relief effort for earthquake devastated Haiti?

After thinking about it for a few seconds, I decided  to smile and  snap  their pictures, but not ask any questions.

After all, in many ways they are like the rest of us: just looking for a little peace and quiet on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon.

President Obama, Clinton and Bush Announce Relief Plan For Haiti
January 16, 2010






Office of the Press Secretary   


For Immediate Release                      January 16, 2010   







Rose Garden   


11:02 A.M. EST   


     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, everybody.  In times of great challenge in our country and around the world, Americans have always come together to lend a hand and to serve others and to do what’s right.  That’s what the American people have been doing in recent days with their extraordinary generosity and contributions to the Haitian people.   


     At this moment, we’re moving forward with one of the largest relief efforts in our history — to save lives and to deliver relief that averts an even larger catastrophe.  The two leaders with me today will ensure that this is matched by a historic effort that extends beyond our government, because America has no greater resource than the strength and the compassion of the American people.   


     We just met in the Oval Office — an office they both know well.  And I’m pleased that President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton have agreed to lead a major fundraising effort for relief:  the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.  On behalf of the American people, I want to thank both of you for returning to service and leading this urgent mission.   


     This is a model that works.  After the terrible tsunami in Asia, President Bush turned to President Clinton and the first President Bush to lead a similar fund.  That effort raised substantial resources for the victims of that disaster — money that helped save lives, deliver aid, and rebuild communities.  And that’s exactly what the people of Haiti desperately need right now.   


     Every day that goes by, we learn more about the horrifying scope of this catastrophe — destruction and suffering that defies comprehension.  Entire communities buried under mountains of concrete.  Families sleeping in the streets.  Injured desperate for care.  Many thousands feared dead.  That’s why thousands of American personnel — civilian and military — are on the scene working to distribute clean drinking water and food and medicine, and thousands of tons of emergency food supplies are arriving every day.   


     It will be difficult.  It is an enormous challenge to distribute this aid quickly and safely in a place that has suffered such destruction.  That’s what we’re focused on now — working closely with our partners:  the Haitian government, the United Nations, and many organizations and nations — friends from Argentina and France, from Dominican Republic and Brazil, and countries all around the world.   


     And Secretary Hillary Clinton will be in Haiti today to meet with President Préval and continue our close coordination with his government.  But we also know that our longer-term effort will not be measured in days and weeks; it will be measured in months and even years.  And that’s why it’s so important to enlist and sustain the support of the American people.  That’s why it’s so important to have a point of coordination for all the support that extends beyond our government.   


     Here at home, Presidents Bush and Clinton will help the American people to do their part, because responding to a disaster must be the work of all of us.  Indeed, those wrenching scenes of devastation remind us not only of our common humanity but also of our common responsibilities.  This time of suffering can and must be a time of compassion.   


     As the scope of the destruction became apparent, I spoke to each of these gentlemen, and they each asked the same simple question:  How can I help?  In the days ahead they’ll be asking everyone what they can do — individuals, corporations, NGOs, and institutions.  And I urge everyone who wants to help to visit    


     We’re fortunate to have the service of these two leaders.  President Bush led America’s response to the Asian tsunami, aid and relief that prevented even greater loss of life in the months after that disaster.  And his administration’s efforts to fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa treated more than 10 million men, women, and children.   


     As President, Bill Clinton helped restore democracy in Haiti.  As a private citizen, he has helped to save the lives of millions of people around the world.  And as the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, he understands intimately the daily struggles and needs of the Haitian people.   


     And by coming together in this way, these two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and to the people of the world:  In these difficult hours, America stands united.  We stand united with the people of Haiti, who have shown such incredible resilience, and we will help them to recover and to rebuild.   


     Yesterday we witnessed a small but remarkable display of that determination — some of you may have seen it — Haitians with little more than the clothes on their back marched peacefully through a ruined neighborhood, and despite all their loss and all their suffering they sang songs of faith and songs of hope.    


     These are the people we’re called upon to help.  Those are the hopes that we’re committed to answering.  That’s why the three of us are standing together today.  And with that, I would invite each President to say a few words.  I’m going to start with President Bush.   


     PRESIDENT BUSH:  I join President Obama in expressing my sympathy for the people of Haiti.  I commend the President for his swift and timely response to the disaster.  I am so pleased to answer the call to work alongside President Clinton to mobilize the compassion of the American people.   


     Like most Americans, Laura and I have been following the television coverage from Haiti.  Our hearts are broken when we see the scenes of little children struggling without a mom or a dad, or the bodies in the streets or the physical damage of the earthquake.   


     The challenges down there are immense, but there’s a lot of devoted people leading the relief effort, from government personnel who deployed into the disaster zone to the faith-based groups that have made Haiti a calling.   


     The most effective way for Americans to help the people of Haiti is to contribute money.  That money will go to organizations on the ground and will be — who will be able to effectively spend it.  I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water — just send your cash.  One of the things that the President and I will do is to make sure your money is spent wisely.  As President Obama said, you can look us up on    


     The Haitian people have got a tough journey, yet it’s amazing how terrible tragedies can bring out the best of the human spirit.  We’ve all seen that firsthand when American citizens responded to the tsunami or to Katrina or to the earthquake in Pakistan.  And President Clinton and I are going to work to tap that same spirit of giving to help our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean.   


     Toward the end of my presidency, Laura made a trip down to Haiti to look at the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief programs down there.  I remember clearly her coming back and telling me about the energy and optimism of the people of Haiti.  There’s just an unbelievable spirit amongst the Haitian people.  And while that earthquake destroyed a lot, it didn’t destroy their spirit.   


     So the people of Haiti will recovery and rebuild, and as they do they know they’ll have a friend in the United States of America.  Mr. President, thank you for giving me the chance to serve.   


     PRESIDENT CLINTON:  First, I want to thank President Obama for asking President Bush and me to do this, and for what I believe has been a truly extraordinary response on the part of the American government.  Because I’ve been working down there for nearly a year as the U.N. special envoy, I’ve been in constant touch with our people through the U.N. on the ground, and you know we lost a lot of our people there — the largest loss of life in the history of the United Nations on a single day.  The United States has been there from the beginning.  The military has been great.  The response by the State Department and AID has been great.  I just can’t say enough about it.  And the people in Haiti know it, and I’m grateful.   


     Secondly, I’d like to thank President Bush for agreeing to do this, and for the concern he showed for Haiti.  Before this happened, my foundation worked with the PEPFAR people on the AIDS problems in Haiti and I saw how good they were and what they did and how many lives they saved.   


     Finally, let me say that — I don’t have to read the Web site because they did — but I want to say something about this.  Right now all we need to do is get food and medicine and water and a secure place for them to be.  But when we start the rebuilding effort, we want to do what I did with the President’s father in the tsunami area.  We want to be a place where people can know their money will be well spent; where we will ensure the ongoing integrity of the process.    


     And we want to stay with this over the long run.  My job with the U.N. basically is not at all in conflict with this because I’m sort of the outside guy.  My job is to work with the donor nations, the international agencies, the business people around the world to try to get them to invest there, the nongovernmental organizations, the Haitian diaspora community.   


     I believe before this earthquake Haiti had the best chance in my lifetime to escape its history — a history that Hillary and I have shared a tiny part of.  I still believe that.  The Haitians want to just amend their development plan to take account of what’s happened in Port-au-Prince and west, figure out what they got to do about that, and then go back to implementing it.  But it’s going to take a lot of help and a long time.   


     So I’m just grateful that President Bush wants to help, and I’ve already figured out how I can get him to do some things that he didn’t sign on for.  (Laughter.)    


     Again, I have no words to say what I feel like.  When you — I was in those hotels that collapsed.  I had meals with people who are dead.  The cathedral church that Hillary and I sat in 34 years ago is a total rubble.  But what these men have said is true:  It is still one of the most remarkable, unique places I have ever been.  And they can escape their history and build a better future if we do our part.  And President Obama, thank you for giving us a chance to do a little of that.   


     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, these gentlemen are going to do an extraordinary job, but really what they’re going to be doing is just tapping into the incredible generosity, the ingenuity, the can-do spirit of the American people in helping our neighbors in need.  So I want to thank each of them not only for being here today but what I know is going to be an extraordinary effort.    


     I want to make sure that everybody got that Web site one more time.  Obviously we’re just standing it up, but it will immediately give people a means to contact our offices —    


     And I just want to amplify one thing that was said.  We were talking in the back.  In any extraordinary catastrophe like this, the first several weeks are just going to involve getting immediate relief on the ground.  And there are going to be some tough days over the next several days.  People are still trying to figure out how to organize themselves.  There’s going to be fear, anxiety, a sense of desperation in some cases.    


     I’ve been in contact with President Préval.  I’ve been talking to the folks on the ground.  We are going to be making slow and steady progress, and the key now is to — for everybody in Haiti to understand that there is going to be sustained help on the way.    


     But what these gentlemen are going to be able to do is when the news media starts seeing its attention drift to other things but there’s still enormous needs on the ground, these two gentlemen of extraordinary stature I think are going to be able to help ensure that these efforts are sustained.  And that’s why it’s so important and that’s why I’m so grateful that they agreed to do it.   


     Thank you, gentlemen.   


Governor Perry Announces Help For Haiti
January 14, 2010

Gov. Perry Sends Search and Rescue Teams to Aid Earthquake Victims in Haiti

Offers Additional Disaster Response Assistance from Texas

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today sent Texas Task Force One, the state’s elite search and rescue team, to provide assistance in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti. He also sent a letter to President Barack Obama offering additional state disaster response resources to assist emergency response teams, rescue workers and medical personnel. Since the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is leading and coordinating the U.S. response effort to this disaster, Texas must receive federal authorization before state resources can be deployed.

“In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Texas is standing by to deliver much needed assistance and supplies to the victims of this disaster,” Gov. Perry said. “Already this morning a team of brave men and women from Texas Task Force One departed for Haiti to provide vital search and rescue assistance. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, rescue personnel and medical workers in Haiti as they continue to cope with the aftermath of this quake.”

Texas Task Force One is capable of responding to mass-casualty disasters, and is trained and equipped to locate and rescue people trapped by collapsed structures in confined space in highly populated areas.

Additional state resources available for deployment include:

Medical Personnel:

  • Medical Assessment and Coordination Team with 4 personnel from Texas A&M/University of Texas
  • TxMAT (Texas Medical Assistance Team) – 2 teams – 7 personnel each; one from TX A&M and one from Angel Staffing – 1 physician, 2 nurses, 2 paramedics, 1 respiratory care
  • Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Command Assistance Team (1 team of 7 – 10 personnel) – from DSHS central and regional staff; incident management team
  • Community Assessment Public Emergency Response Team (CASPER) 3-5 person team to augment U.S. Public Health Service


Medical Supplies:

  • 40 shelter push packs – support 100 people for three days with over-the-counter medications and other shelter supplies
  • 40 shelter supply augmentation kits for infection control focused on preventing infectious disease, including gloves, masks, sanitizers, etc.


Medical Equipment:

  • 2 mortuary refrigerated trailers with body bags and supplies


Baptist Child and Family Services: San Antonio (Shelter Medical):

  • Two 500 bed shelters including tents
  • 70 staff for Incident Management Team
  • 60 kilowatt generators
  • Medical staff (nurses and paramedics)
  • Communications package for satellite and local radios 


Texas Baptist Men:

  • Water purification equipment and personnel capable of providing drinking water for 65,000 people.    


Texas Military Forces Aircraft:

  • Two C-130s capable of transporting large quantities of equipment, supplies and personnel


TX A&M (Boat):

  • 600 foot boat capable of housing responders


Search and Rescue: Texas Task Force One – TX A&M (already approved by federal government for deployment):

  • Highly trained urban search and rescue team
  • 80 personnel
  • Search and rescue, K-9, logistics, communications and medical capabilities


Search and Rescue: Texas Task Force Two – DFW Area:

  • Highly trained personnel to augment Texas Task Force One
  • Conduct search of small structures


Texas-related volunteer organizations providing financial and other assistance in response to this disaster include The Salvation Army, Victim Relief Ministers, Billy Graham Ministries, Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, American Red Cross, and Baptist Child and Family Services.

To view the governor’s letter to the president, please visit

For additional information on the response effort and situation in Haiti, please visit

# # #

The United States Will Send Help To Haiti Following Devastation
January 13, 2010




 Diplomatic Reception Room

 10:20 A.M. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  This morning I want to extend to the people of Haiti the deep condolences and unwavering support of the American people following yesterday’s terrible earthquake. 

     We are just now beginning to learn the extent of the devastation, but the reports and images that we’ve seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes, and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching.  Indeed, for a country and a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering, this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible.  Our thoughts and prayers are also with the many Haitian Americans around our country who do not yet know the fate of their families and loved ones back home.

     I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives.  The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief — the food, water and medicine  — that Haitians will need in the coming days.  In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region, and around the world. 

Right now our efforts are focused on several urgent priorities.  First, we’re working quickly to account for U.S. embassy personnel and their families in Port-au-Prince, as well as the many American citizens who live and work in Haiti.  Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888/407-4747.  I’m going to repeat that – 888/407-4747.

Second, we’ve mobilized resources to help rescue efforts.  Military overflights have assessed the damage, and by early afternoon our civilian disaster assistance team are beginning to arrive.  Search and rescue teams from Florida, Virginia and California will arrive throughout today and tomorrow, and more rescue and medical equipment and emergency personnel are being prepared. 

     Because in disasters such as this the first hours and days are absolutely critical to saving lives and avoiding even greater tragedy, I have directed my teams to be as forward-leaning as possible in getting the help on the ground and coordinating with our international partners as well.

     Third, given the many different resources that are needed, we are taking steps to ensure that our government acts in a unified way.  My national security team has led an interagency effort overnight.  And to ensure that we coordinate our effort, going forward, I’ve designated the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Dr. Rajiv Shah, to be our government’s unified disaster coordinator. 

     Now, this rescue and recovery effort will be complex and challenging.  As we move resources into Haiti, we will be working closely with partners on the ground, including the many NGOs from Haiti and across Haiti, the United Nations Stabilization Mission, which appears to have suffered its own losses, and our partners in the region and around the world.  This must truly be an international effort.

     Finally, let me just say that this is a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share.  With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home.  So we have to be there for them in their hour of need. 

Despite the fact that we are experiencing tough times here at home, I would encourage those Americans who want to support the urgent humanitarian efforts to go to where you can learn how to contribute.  We must be prepared for difficult hours and days ahead as we learn about the scope of the tragedy. We will keep the victims and their families in our prayers.  We will be resolute in our response, and I pledge to the people of Haiti that you will have a friend and partner in the United States of America today and going forward. 

May God bless the people of Haiti and those working on their behalf.

     Thank you very much.

                                             END          10:24 A.M. EST