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Advocates Ask Trump Administration to Extend Haitian TPS

 

It’s as if Trump is looking for ways to remove as many brown people from the country as possible.

Yesterday, we wrote about how Trump is seeking the deportation of 4,000 Somali asylum seekers and refugees even though their home country is still too dangerous to return to. Today, we’re highlighting how Trump wants to do something similar to 50,000 Haitians — by lifting the temporary protected status (TPS) that allows them to work and stay in the US.

Acting USCIS director: End Haitian TPS

According to USA Today, USCIS acting director James McCament said in a letter last week that conditions have improved enough in Haiti after a series of natural disasters that TPS can be ended for Haitians living in America. The ending of TPS would mean the ending of their legal status here (for those who are here under TPS), opening them up to arrest, detention, and deportation. It would also mean family separation for those who have given birth to US-citizen children here over the last seven years, who would have to choose between taking their children to a dangerous country, or not being together at all.

Haitian TPS started in 2010, after a devastating earthquake in Haiti which displaced hundreds of thousands. TPS has been extended several times, after the country was struck by Hurricane Matthew, which killed 1,000 people. Cholera has also killed 9,000 people and continues to plague the country. The latest renewal of TPS for Haitians is set to expire July 22, and the final decision on whether to renew it rests with DHS Secretary John Kelly.

Advocates, Obama Admin, Republicans, and Democrats: Lapse of TPS would be “travesty”

McCament has said that TPS should not be extended — which is a sharp departure from USCIS’ report from just four months ago, when Obama was still in office. That report said that:

Many of the conditions prompting the original January 2010 … designation persist, including a housing shortage, a cholera epidemic and limited access to medical care, damage to the economy … political instability, security risks, food insecurity, and environmental risks (as exemplified by the impact of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016).

Haitian TPS has broad bipartisan support, with members of Congress from Marco Rubio to Chuck Schumer supporting it. As Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said this week:

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and right now it’s unable to support the roughly 50,000 Haitians that are currently receiving protected status here in the U.S. The U.S. should be focused on helping Haiti recover, not sending people back to a country that can’t support them.

In agreement was Esther Olavarria, a senior counselor at DHS under the Obama Administration, who said that letting TPS expire, and forcibly deporting Haitians back now “would be a travesty.”

Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association noted:
The provision of a safe haven to those who would face dire conditions if forced to return to their home countries is fundamental to U.S. humanitarian policy. The bottom line is that conditions in Haiti have not improved to an extent that would remotely justify the end of TPS. The elimination of TPS for Haiti will not only create immense hardships for close to 47,000 Haitian individuals who have lived in the United States under the protection of this program for more than 7 years, it will also impact their children, many of whom are U.S. citizens, and their families back home, who rely on remittances for their basic needs. There is bipartisan support for extending Haiti TPS and it is not too late for DHS to act. Extending TPS for Haiti is simply the right thing to do.
The Sun-Sentinel this week also published an editorial saying that it would be “simple” to let Haitian TPS holders stay.

Finally, the Immigration Legal Resource Center has pointed out that TPS for more than 180,000 Salvadorans and 70,000 Hondurans is also set to expire within the next year and a half. A new report from them says that deporting all Haitians, Salvadorans, and Hondurans with TPS would cost taxpayers $3.1 billion and lead to a $45.2 billion reduction in GDP over a decade.