The Obama administration took the right and humane step by temporarily suspending deportations of undocumented Haitian immigrants in the wake of this week’s massive earthquake in Haiti. However, the next step that is urgently needed is to grant Haitians in the United States Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.
The official designation, which has long been sought for undocumented Haitians by immigrant advocacy groups and elected officials with Haitian-American constituents, would permit the immigrants to remain in the U.S. for longer periods and obtain work permits. Allowing them to work here and earn money to support themselves, and just as importantly, to send much needed-financial help to families back home, makes good sense now more than ever given the extent of the devastation caused by the earthquake and the level of humanitarian and financial assistance needed.
America’s Voice strongly supports calls by members of South Florida’s Congressional delegation for Pres. Obama to grant Haitian immigrants TPS, a designation that has been routinely granted to nationals of other countries that suffered natural disasters, wars, or other serious calamities, but consistently denied to Haitian nationals despite a series of natural disasters, military coups, and widespread and violent and civil and political unrest over the years. Immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan and Somalia currently have TPS.
“Given the situation on the ground in Haiti, the continued exclusion of Haitian nationals from TPS would be indefensible” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “It would reek of a double standard and raise troubling questions about why Haitians are being denied protection under a statutory framework designed precisely for situations such as this.”
“I’m optimistic that Pres. Obama will do the right thing,” said Sharry. “The death, destruction and devastation in Haiti call on us to use every lever at our disposal to help the people recover from a disaster of biblical proportions. TPS is one of those levers.”