Yesterday, DHS Secretary John Kelly announced a 6-month extension of temporary protected status for Haitians living in the US, which means that some 50,000 Haitians will be able to stay in the United States until at least January 2018.
It was the right move, and a testament to the people power that has relentlessly pressured the Administration to extend TPS. Advocates sent more than 13,000 petitions to Kelly; sent a letter from more than 35 humanitarian, international development, and human rights organizations; marched in the streets of Miami; held numerous press conferences and calls; earned support from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle; and kept the drumbeat up for months until Kelly announced his decision.
Still, the six-month extension isn’t enough. Haiti has not recovered enough from the multiple disasters to be able to take back 50,000 people anytime soon, and Haitians living in the U.S. cannot be expected to live their lives six months at a time. It’s especially not enough considering that the Administration went out of its way to try and make the case that Haitians didn’t deserve TPS renewal, or that TPS for a number of other countries is also set to expire next year.
The fight will continue, but first, view the statements on the Kelly decision from some of the organizations involved in the TPS fight, included below:
We recognize they are caving to the collective organizing around keeping this program alive 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. Moreover, in six months, we’ll also be fighting to save the entire TPS program as renewals for Somalia, Sudan and countries in Central America will be due. We are still moving forward with our investigation of their TPS renewal decision-making process after their concerning emails revealing their intent to vilify Haitian immigrants.
Florida Immigrant Coalition:
The recent decision announced by the Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status for eligible Haitians only to January of 2018 totally ignores the island’s current humanitarian crisis and will further destabilize the community here and abroad. It continues the Trump Administration’s efforts to make life for immigrants in the U.S. more difficult, push them into the shadows and into the privately-run arms of prison detention centers.
Nearly 55,000 Haitian TPS recipients currently live in the United States, with about 50% living in Florida and contributing socially and economically to local communities. Expecting families and communities to be able to pick up and move back to a country whose recovery is at best questionable in just six months makes little sense in the real world, but shows the kind of judgement that has been present in a number of recent federal decisions. It’s made even worse considering the promise that then-candidate Trump made with local leaders in Little Haiti, when he promised to be their “greatest champion.”.
Haitians abroad are already facing food insecurity, the cholera epidemic, and economic instability in their country – conditions that are unlikely to be resolved in the next six months. Recipients from other TPS countries like El Salvador face a similar unstable situations. Yet the Administration believes that sending these families back to these countries will not have an effect on local economies and services.
Forcing Haitians to return to a destabilized Haiti would cement an inhumane precedent. We call on Secretary Kelly to make an informed decision, based on the facts on the ground and extend TPS for a full 18 months. With hurricane season fast approaching, anything less would not only be irresponsible, but would further strain the social and economic fabric of the communities here and on the island.
For the time being, this is a welcome development for the Haitian TPS-holders who have become our neighbors, classmates, colleagues, and friends, and all those who stood up to support their right to live in safety. We remain deeply concerned about conditions in Haiti. For the thousands of Haitians who have been living and working in the United States for the past seven years—many of whom have children who are U.S citizens—DHS has not provided any level of certainty as to whether their situation will be reconsidered in six months. Failing to extend TPS for Haitians beyond January will have grave consequences for communities in the U.S. as well as communities in Haiti.
However, while we are pleased with this progress, a six-month extension will hardly appease the concerns of those who face a return to a country that has been ravaged by natural disasters and continues to experience political and economic turmoil. A longer-term solution is necessary and in the best interest of both the United States and Haiti.
Furthermore, we cannot overlook the gravity of the Trump administration’s behind-the-scenes attempts to criminalize and vilify Black and immigrant communities. We will continue to fight with our partners to shed light on the administration’s troubling actions in the leadup to this decision.
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.