A recording of today’s call is available here.
Religious leaders, advocates and immigrants gathered on a press call today in response to the news that Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Haitians living in the United States has been terminated by the Trump Administration.
Lys Isma, Haitian TPS recipient who came to the United States at nine months old:
Migration is a fundamental human right: people have the right to food, water, and safe communities just by being born human beings. And where you live should never determine if you live. The decision last night filled me with emotion, but I was not surprised. It is time to call on Congress to act and create a permanent solution.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami:
Congress has 18 months to do the right thing and provide a path to permanent legal status that includes Haitians and Central Americans who are affected by the Administration’s decisions to rescind TPS. Country conditions there require a permanent protective status here. Our Haitian brothers and sisters have integrated into American society – they are our neighbors. It’s no longer a question of sending them ‘home.’ After so many years in the U.S. they are ‘home.’ Congress should pass legislation recognizing that this serves the common good of all.
Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC):
Termination of TPS for Haiti is another marker in the Administration’s betrayal of the American principles that formed our humanitarian immigration system. We should not return people to places where their lives will be at risk. For Haiti, the decision should have relied on existing conditions, not a guess as to whether things will improve enough for the country to safely reabsorb tens of thousands of people in 18 months…CLINIC’s network has long worked to protect the legal rights of Haitians in the United States. Catholic medical institutions employ many TPS holders from Haiti and Catholic charities support those who need other kinds of assistance. Partners such as Catholic Relief Services have worked diligently in Haiti to improve living conditions. As I witnessed during my recent visit, it is clear is that Haiti is on a slow and fragile path to recovery. The church will continue to stand by Haitians in all of these ways.
Reverend Noel Andersen, National Grassroots Coordinator, Church World Service:
No matter what our religious tradition, we all agree that we are called to love our neighbors and welcome immigrants especially when the communities we serve are in need. In fact, we have a moral obligation to respond with passion and kindness. We cannot morally stand by and let those in need go without help.
Pastor Jean Willeme Thomas, President of the Haitian Coalition of Delmarva, and Pastor of the Federalsburg Haitian Church of the Nazarene in Federalsburg, Maryland:
As a Haitian faith leader, I believe the Administration’s choice to terminate Haitian TPS is deeply disappointing, and does not reflect the best of American values of protection and welcome. There is great irony that this decision, which will lead to unemployment and family separation, impacts many Haitian meat processing workers in our area at exactly the time when America gathers around tables that enjoy poultry products. This judgment also does not follow the call of our scriptures to ‘Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend orphans.’ (Isaiah 1:17) Instead, the government should remember how immigrants have always helped to build transportation and structures, provide services, grow businesses, and strengthen communities to make America great. We are motivated through today’s pain to turn the voices of all who can into votes for a future where American leadership will truly show liberty and justice for all.
Reverend Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada:
My soul is saddened, in partnership with our Haitian neighbors throughout the U.S., at the Administration’s distressing decision to end Temporary Protective Status for the nearly 60,000 Haitians who have been enabled to legally work, pay taxes, support their families in the U.S., and send remittances that benefit their homeland under the status. Haitians lead vibrant and long term ministries coast to coast in New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, Indiana, Maryland, Connecticut, and elsewhere. In each location, the work of Haitians in healthcare, service, production, business, and professional roles has demonstrated daily the value of TPS for all our communities. Any policy which removes legal status from persons who are contributing economically, which threatens to separate Haitian parents from their nearly 27,000 U.S. born children, and which eliminates safeguards from return to a nation yet unable to offer adequate reintegration is a backward step that turns us from God’s call to ‘maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute’ (Psalms 82:3). In response, we urge the Administration to redesignate Haitian TPS, and call upon Congress to ‘open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the poor and needy’ (Proverbs 31:9) by seeking a more permanent legislative solution to protect our Haitian neighbors and other TPS recipients.
Rabbi Elizabeth Richman, Deputy Director and Rabbi in Residence, Jews United For Justice:
TPS holders, like all of us, are human beings created in the image of God. Like all of us, they deserve to live in safe, dignified conditions in the place they now call home. It is simply heartless to revoke their status, especially before Thanksgiving, a holiday that commemorates the story of people fleeing misery and persecution in their home country arriving in this land. TPS was always designed as a stopgap measure, a Band-Aid solution to larger systemic problems with our broken immigration system. In cancelling this lifesaving program, the Administration has removed that Band-Aid even as the underlying wounds have not yet healed. My Jewish community calls on Congress now to pick up the pieces, create a path to legal permanent status for TPS holders, and get to work immediately on compassionate solutions to our broken immigration system.