Trump admin to extend protections for Haitians 6 months
- Author: Bernice Underwood May 23, 2017,
May 23, 2017, 14:48
The Department of Homeland Security Monday struck an imperfect but defensible balance with respect to 50,000 Haitians living in the United States. More than 20,000 Haitians in NYC benefit from TPS, according to 1199SEIU. A final decision about the long-term fate of those immigrants will be decided at a later date.
The designation, also known as TPS, was implemented by the USA government for Haiti days after a powerful quake in January 2010 leveled much of the country surrounding the capital of Port-au-Prince.
The Trump administration said Monday it will extend until January a humanitarian program that has allowed roughly 58,000 Haitians to live in the United States.
Haitians who were given temporary protection from deportation following a 2010 natural disaster will be allowed to stay in the US until at least January 2018, affecting about 100 Haitians in San Diego with temporary protected status.
"It's bad news. We are disappointed", said Ronald Surin, a Fort Lauderdale attorney with a large Haitian clientele. The 18-month program had been redesignated three times before Monday's six month extension.
Immigrant-rights advocates say conditions in Haiti are so rough that they deserve a longer-term protection, but Homeland Security officials said Mr. Kelly was following the strict letter of the law, which says he is supposed to look at the factors that led to the TPS grant in 2010 - in this case, the quake. The officials briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity despite President Donald Trump's insistence that anonymous sources shouldn't be trusted. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat who represents Miami's Little Haiti community, both said they'd like Trump administration officials to visit Haiti.
Haitians became eligible for TPS following the 2010 quake, which for years fueled food insecurity and cholera across the Caribbean island. The program temporarily protects Haitians living in the USA illegally.
She said Trump "made a commitment to Haiti and Haitians in the diaspora as well that he was really going to work with them, and for them, and he made a commitment".
There was no immediate comment from the Haitian government.
"This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients", Mr. Kelly said in a statement.
"We are being positive", Sicard said.
The Trump administration - busy cruelly ratcheting up deportations of undocumented immigrants who are otherwise right with the law, even when they have American-citizen spouses and young children - just got a relatively small piece of immigration policy right. Immigration was a top campaign issue and one that's important to his political base.
The TPS scheme now grants protections to nationals of 10 countries, including Sudan, Somalia, Syria, El Salvador, Nepal and Yemen.
DHS denied that, telling VOA in an email at the time that "the secretary's decision will be based on a thorough assessment of the conditions in the country...."
Kelly determined that conditions in Haiti were improving since the quake seven years ago and the program could be terminated instead of extended again. "Also indicative of Haiti's success in recovering from the quake seven years ago is the Haitian government's stated plans to rebuild the Haitian President's residence at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, and the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti", said Kelly. Department of Homeland Security officials said Kelly is looking at the program closely as part of an effort to ensure all immigration programs serve the national interest. "They were trying to frame it as though it was a big win", said Marleine Bastien.
"The reality is that in six months Haiti will still be in no position to absorb and aid 58,000 unemployed people", she said in a statement.