The fight for permanent residency continues because “The stakes are too high”
Brooklyn, New York– In a new article for the Haitian Times, reporter Larissa Karr highlights the stories of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders from Haiti fighting to protect their lives and families in the United States. Even before the Coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, Haiti was afflicted by natural disasters, disease epidemics, and deteriorating conditions. These have since been exacerbated by the virus, stirring additional political unrest and chaos amid growing infection numbers. Additionally, deportation flights to Haiti from U.S. detention facilities, which are hotbeds for the spread of the virus, could make the spread of the virus worse. Despite attempts from this administration to unlawfully terminate their status and separate them from their families, TPS holders and their families are fighting back in the courts.
Haitian TPS holders, like those from every single designated country, have stepped up amid this deadly pandemic and deserve to stay here in their homes and communities, with their families. All that’s left is for Congress to step up and pass permanent protections to keep TPS holders from being sent back to dangerous conditions. The House has already passed legislation to extend TPS protections to those who have it while we fight the virus, but the Senate has taken no action.
Karr’s reporting is excerpted below and is available in full here:
Yolnick Jeune stood before Congress for the second time, impassioned not just for herself but for the sake of her five children, thinking about the hardships they had endured. One of her daughters had skipped from middle school to high school and now wished to attend college, but was unable to, solely because of her immigration status. Now, their situation was growing increasingly more urgent.
… Last year, Haitian Brooklyners defended a federal lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s decision to end TPS for thousands of nationals from the island nation, including some calling for a pathway to citizenship.
Nine Haitians who have the protection, a nonprofit (Family Action Network Movement), and a business (Haiti Liberte) sued the government, saying they would be negatively impacted by the loss of the protection.
“One of the (individual) plaintiffs was a woman whose son had chronic asthma and he has a nebulizer,” said Ninaj Raoul, co-founder of the Brooklyn-based organization Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees. “He wouldn’t be able to get the services that he receives here if he went back to Haiti and Haiti’s in crisis right now.”
…Haiti experts said there are multiple reasons why TPS holders should not be forced to go back.
With the recent onslaught of COVID-19, life in Haiti is poised to become even more chaotic.
Although the country has less than 1,000 cases at the moment, medical experts say this is not indicative of the true number.“
The situation is very dire, not just in the political spaces, but in the social spaces. You have a lot of unrest, a lot of gangs and food scarcity is affecting 30-40 percent of the population,” said Dr. Jean-Claude Compas, a family physician originally from Miragoâne. “We don’t have the tests or the manpower and what we have is just the tip of the iceberg.
Dr. Compas said the real number of COVID-19 cases is about 15-20 percent higher than the ones that have been recorded. He recalled a conversation with Jean William Pape, Haiti’s leading infectious disease expert.
…A report from the Center for American Progress found that on average TPS holders have lived in the U.S. for 19 years and that 69.2 to 83.5 percent were employed. If TPS holders were to be removed from the labor force, the report shows that $164 billion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product would be lost within the next decade.
State politicians, such as Chairman of the 42nd Assembly District State Committee Josue Pierre, went on radio and social media to support the lawsuit, which resulted in the court ruling against Trump’s attempt to end TPS. Pierre said education plays a crucial role in getting attention for TPS holders.
“Immigrants especially who understand what it means to be an American view it in a different way. They tremendously value it,” Pierre said. “It’s something that people outside of this country invest years in. To come here and start to build things up and then to lose that would be a great loss.”
If Trump were to continue pressing for the end of TPS, Haitians would go back to a country in chaos.
…Nonetheless, Jeune said she will continue to fight for permanent residency because the stakes are too high.
“If it wasn’t for TPS, I don’t know what I would do. With TPS, I am able to go to school, go to work, have a decent job and provide for my family,” said Jeune. “I have nothing, no money, in Haiti. Life in Haiti is unbearable.”