HAITIANS WITH TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS IN LIMBO

HAITIANS WITH TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS IN LIMBO

 

WASHINGTON, DC – What to do with the nearly sixty thousand Haitian citizens residing in the United States under TPS is an important question that neither the Trump administration nor the Haitian government is prepared to answer. In less than eighteen months, Haitians under temporary protected status would have a wrenching decision to make: pack-up their belongings and their children and move back to Haiti, or stay in the US illegally and risk arrest and deportation.

 

In 1990 president George W. Bush signed into law a humanitarian program that allows immigrants to remain in the US under protected status because of a natural disaster or armed conflict in their countries that make it unsafe for them to return. Or, their country is unable to receive them adequately. Since the inception of the program, thousands of people from countries like Haiti, Sudan, Yemen, Nepal, Somalia, Honduras and El Salvador have benefited from TPS which shield them from arrest and deportation for being in the US without proper legal documents.

 

After the 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and displaced over a million people, President Obama granted TPS to Haitians who were in the United States without documents before the earthquake; or who came into the US within a year after the quake. TPS is supposed to be a temporary relief where the recipients get to return to their countries once the situation improved. In the past, President Obama has ended TPS for African countries devastated by the Ebola virus.

 

The Trump administration has recently decided to end TPS for Haitians. Elaine Duke, the acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, set July 2019 as the deadline for Haitians under TPS to either leave the US or risk being arrested and deported. This decision came, she said after talks with Haitian government officials and the Haitian community in the United States. In a statement released by DHS, she writes “Significant steps have been taken to improve stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returning Haitians.” What does she mean by “traditional level”? Does she mean 10 Haitians or a 100?

 

DHS statement about Haiti’s ability to adequately receive thousands of Haitians is factually incorrect. One hurricane or another have continuously hit 2012 Haiti. Recently, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida traveled to Haiti and reported that “Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000 TPS recipients under these difficult and harsh conditions” referring to the current hurricane that destroyed part of the country. Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, told CNN that ending TPS for Haitians is “unconscionable.”

 

WHAT THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT CAN DO

 

The Haitian government has been unusually silent even after DHS seems to insinuate on its statement that official government officials agree that TPS for Haitians should not be renewed. It is not clear who in the Haitian community that DHS spoke to, but most Haitians, including this newspaper, wholeheartedly agree that the conditions have not improved enough in Haiti where the country can adequately receive that many people. Even though Haiti is unable to accept that many people, in the interim the government can do a few things:

 

According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 110,000 undocumented Haitians in the United States subject to deportation. Most of them are covered by TPS, but after July 2019 all of them would be subject to deportation. In the interim, the Haitian government must prepare for the eventual return of these people by doing the following. Conduct a study to find out: who they are, where they are in the United States, what relationship, if any they have with families in Haiti, where in Haiti they resided; how long ago did they leave Haiti; whether they have children who are US citizens; their assets in the United States, whether they have paid into social security, and what will become of their assets if they must leave the US.  The data would assist Haitian government officials in preparing for their eventual return.  These people are Haitian citizens, and they deserve to be treated as such.

 

Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, an aspirant for higher office in Haiti, ought to take the lead on this. It is an opportunity for him to be a real public servant by assisting the community. Also, the Haitian government must lobby US Congress for comprehensive immigration policy. Congress has less than 18 months to consider immigration reform that may provide relief to these people. Many of them have lived in the US for a very long time. They have children who are US citizens and are allowed to stay in the US. They have worked, purchased homes and made a life for themselves, to uproot them and divide families is cruel and unconscionable.

 

Omega supports the renewal of TPS, but given the untenable situation some of our family members and friends are facing, we must call on our political leaders and government officials to perform their duties. We ask our readers to call their representatives in Congress to urge them to take action on immigration now.

 

Omega World News

Roy-Editor

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