Deepa Iyer, Color Lines, May 17, 2017
The Trump Administration is poised to make a decision that could affect the lives of 58,000 Haitian immigrants living and working in the United States. John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), must decide by May 23 whether the government will extend temporary protected status, or TPS, for Haitian immigrants.
TPS is an 18-month status provided to foreign nationals who cannot return safely to their homes because of dangerous conditions in their countries such as armed conflicts, environmental disasters or epidemics. Beneficiaries of TPS status may work and travel in the United States and cannot be deported. The U.S. government designated TPS for Haiti after the 2010 earthquake devastated parts of the nation. The designation has been renewed several times. As a result, approximately 58,700 Haitians have received TPS status and have settled in cities including Miami and New York City.
Haiti’s TPS designation expires in July of this year, which means that Haitians with this status may be deported from the U.S.
The Trump Administration has sent various signals about its stance on Haitian TPS in the past month. In April, James W. McCament, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), recommended that TPS designation for Haiti be terminated. Despite concluding that “[t]he institutional capacity of the Haitian [g]overnment to respond to the lingering effects of the earthquake remains weak,” USCIS believes that conditions have sufficiently improved and that it is no longer in the U.S.’ national interest to extend the TPS designation.
The government’s response to renewing TPS status seems to be influenced by Trump’s tough-on-immigration enforcement policies.
Advocates are asking people to sign a petition, raise awareness on social media using #RenewTPSNow and #SaveTPS, and contact the Department of Homeland Security at 202-618-5172 to call for the renewal of the TPS designation for thousands of Haitian immigrants.