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Faith Leaders, Haitian TPS Holders, Advocates Disappointed that TPS for Haitians Extended for Only Six Months

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Urge DHS Secretary Kelly to extend protections for Haitians in the United States beyond January 2018

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Today, faith leaders, Haitian TPS holders, and advocates expressed concern about the Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary Kelly’s announcement yesterday to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States for only another six months. While the extension is a momentary relief for the 50,000 Haitians in the U.S. through TPS, faith leaders and advocates urge Secretary Kelly to extend it for at least 18 months after it is slated to end in January. Conditions on the ground in Haiti, including damage from natural disasters, health epidemics, and risks of kidnapping make it impractical and immoral for anyone to be returned to the country. A recording of today’s call is available here.

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, Northeastern Jurisdiction, Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church, said, “In my ministry, I have come to know and be in relationship with many families from Haiti who came to the US seeking shelter and hope. These families sought relief, but they have also contributed to our society, and used many of their resources to offer help to families and friends who remain in Haiti. Expelling them prematurely would devastate their children and undermine the stability they are helping to achieve back home through their continuing economic support.”

Rev. Dr. Bill Jenkins, Executive Director, Christ United Methodist Ministry Center, said, “As a church that has helped Haitian refugees in San Diego for eight years and has served as the shelter for over 5,000 Haitian refugees since May 2016, we know firsthand the plight of those impacted by this TPS decision. For most of them, especially the children, this is a sentence to suffering and even death.”

Jonathan Jayes-Green, Co-founder and National Coordinator, UndocuBlack Network, said, “Now that we know that they have chosen to extend the program for only six months, we realize a few things. We realize this decision means they are caving to the collective organizing around keeping this program alive by a wide range of immigrant, racial, and civil rights organizations across the country. And that’s a partial victory for all of us. However, we believe this is not enough. Six months is not enough. Six months is not enough for the situation in Haiti to radically improve to a place where over 50,000 Haitians migrants can return and be reintegrated safely or holistically. Six months is not enough for our families who’ve lived here for an average of 7-15 years to uproot everything they know and return to Haiti.”

Lys Isma, Haitian TPS Recipient, said, “It shouldn’t be an easy decision to send someone to the poorest country in this half of the world. Migration is a fundamental human right. Where you live should never determine if you live.”

Violette, Member, Evangelical Crusade Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Brooklyn, N.Y., said,  “The TPS status given to me and to others is a humanitarian relief for those of us whose lives have been in danger and at risk of further oppression if we return. Now, the administration’s decision to extend TPS for only six months has increased my fear, and is putting me and others in more danger. My country is not ready to receive us. It makes much for sense for me to continue to work hard here, contribute to this country, support my church, and help my family still in Haiti by sending support to them whenever I can.”

Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), said, “At CLINIC, we remain gravely concerned for our Haitian brothers and sisters. The Haitian government itself requested TPS be extended for another eighteen, not six months, as dangerous and unstable conditions persist. We urge Secretary Kelly to carefully consider the situation in Haiti over the next six months and to utilize TPS as Congress intended, to protect people who would be put in harm’s way if they were to be returned to their country against their will.”

Jasmine Huggins, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, Church World Service, said “We need to push back against Secretary Kelly’s assertion that Haiti will be stable enough in six months to end TPS here in the U.S.. Nine thousand people have already died from cholera, which has not been controlled and continues to spread and kill. Even before Hurricane Matthew, one third of Haiti’s population was food insecure and the cost of food has increased by 15-20%. Sending money from U.S. to family members in Haiti is a life-saving economic development tool for Haiti. We should extend TPS for Haitians for at least eighteen months.”

Salvador Cervantes, Fair Immigration Reform Movement Regional Organizer, Center for Community Change, said, “Threatening people’s protective status is yet another part of Trump’s hateful agenda driven by White Nationalist principles. Traditionally, communities granted TPS are allowed to remain in the country, not asked to live their lives in six monthincrements and then uproot themselves from the community they have built ties with. Immigrants, activists and allies are watching and we won’t back down.”

Meredith Owen, Policy Advocate, Church World Service, said, “While the extension is a momentary relief for the thousands of Haitians in the U.S., many of the conditions in Haiti that justified the original designation for TPS persist. Although we welcome ongoing protections for our Haitian brothers and sisters, we urge Secretary Kelly to consider the ongoing and complex humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Our collective moral, religious, and American values call for upholding our nation’s commitment to extend protections to Haitians in the US through January 2018 and beyond, as conditions in Haiti require.”