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Nearly 70 Members of Congress and More Than 400 Organizations Urge Biden Administration to Redesignate TPS For Haiti and Temporarily Halt Deportation Flights

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Nearly 70 members of Congress are urging the Biden administration to take action in response to the political and humanitarian crisis rapidly unfolding in Haiti. Lawmakers are calling on the administration to protect Haitian nationals already in the U.S. by immediately redesignating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. They also urge officials to temporarily halt all deportation flights to Haiti until conditions there improve.

“Haiti is in a state of security and humanitarian crisis that has forced many Haitians to flee,” lawmakers led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Haiti Caucus co-chairs Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick tell Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Haiti did not constitutionally appoint Prime Minister Ariel Henry and has not held elections since 2017. Now that Prime Minister Henry has yielded to public pressure and announced his intention to resign after the formation of a transitional council, Haiti is likely to experience a period of continued instability as interim leadership begins to facilitate elections.”

Lawmakers say that this instability “is exacerbated by the presence of armed gangs throughout Haiti,” which have seized control of 80% of the capital city of Port-au-Prince and are contributing to a rise in kidnappings, homicides, and sexual violence. In just one indication of the severity of this crisis, the U.S. State Department has designated a “do not travel” advisory for Haiti, the highest alert possible. 

While U.S.-chartered flights have rescued dozens of U.S. citizens in Haiti, hundreds continue to remain stranded. It would be cruel and inhumane to deport anyone back to Haiti when the U.S. is urging all U.S. citizens there to leave immediately.

“Approximately 731,000 Haitian-born people live in the United States,” lawmakers continue in the letter. “The escalation of the grave danger Haitians face in their home country fully satisfies the requirements for a TPS redesignation and a pause on all deportation flights to Haiti. Both of these steps are necessary to ensure that the United States does not return Haitian nationals to a government incapable of protecting its citizens — often subjecting them to repression and violence — and gangs that brutally victimize residents and operate without restrictions.” Read the full letter here.

In a March 20 statement, America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas urged a response grounded in compassion and solutions, not deportation and detention. 

“The Biden administration has an opportunity to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti with compassion, and doing so will strengthen the United States and help stabilize Haiti,” Cárdenas said. “Specifically, President Biden has the ability to strategically expand the use of humanitarian parole and Temporary Protected Status – and halt all deportation flights – to make sure Haitians seeking asylum reach safety, and they and those already here can work to support themselves and their families back home.”

There have been recent reports that the Biden administration is considering using Guantanamo Bay to detain Haitians despite no spike in migrants. Meanwhile, Haitian leaders and others in Florida have condemned Governor Ron DeSantis for deploying troops to the Florida Keys and suggesting that he’ll transport Haitian nationals to Martha’s Vineyard, in a repeat of his likely criminal cruelty from 2022.

WLRN reports that State Rep. Dotie Joseph and the Florida Immigrant Coalition issued a joint statement “criticizing the state for prioritizing ‘militarization over humanitarian aid’ and not addressing ‘the underlying factors driving migration from Haiti.’” WLRN reports they also “called attention to a UN report that found that guns are trafficked from Florida to Haiti, fueling some of the gun violence there.”

“Rather than harass refugees who are literally fleeing for their lives, the state government can focus its law enforcement resources on making sure shipments from Florida are properly screened for illegal arms and munitions,” Rep. Joseph said. Unfortunately, as we have seen, DeSantis would rather harass migrants and politicize their plights instead of seeking humane solutions.

Haitian Bridge Alliance leads more than 400 immigration, human rights, faith-based, and civil rights organizations, including America’s Voice, in continuing the call for relief, issuing a letter this week also urging a TPS redesignation and deportation flight moratorium, as well as the administrative closure of removal cases and the expedited processing for the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program and the Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan (CHNV) parole program.

“Redesignation will allow protection against removal and eligibility for work authorization to all eligible Haitians in the United States,” the groups say in the letter to the Biden administration. “The current TPS recipients from Haiti in the United States, many of whom have been here for decades and have children who are U.S. citizens, have also become essential to our economy and our morale as a country.”

“Moreover, TPS promotes recovery, development, and regional stability by preserving and increasing the flow of remittances to Haiti and directly into the pockets of people who can use the money for food, healthcare, housing, education, and other basic needs that will help decrease the flow of migration,” the groups continue. 

Florida is home to the largest TPS population in the nation, and in particular Haitian TPS holders, who are the engine of the food and accommodation industries in the state and make significant contributions to the local economy. Isaie Marc, a Floridian and member of UNITE HERE, told the Orlando Sentinel that for him, “Haiti is down the street.”

“Without our people, I’m talking about the Haitian people, there is no hospitality industry,” he said. “We run that. Without the Haitian sisters and brothers, we don’t have hotels, we don’t have restaurants. … It’s time for us to step up with the Haitian people, to give them the respect that they deserve.”