Groups Rallying for Haitian TPS Extension in Little Haiti

Louis Holland
May 23, 2017

A humanitarian program that has allowed roughly 58,000 Haitians to live in the United States will be extended until at least January, a US government official said Monday.

There are now 58,706 Haitian beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, according to government statistics, all of whom were granted this status after a 2010 quake leveled parts of Haiti in 2010 and killed upwards of 250,000 people.

"But on Monday, Kelly said he decided "after careful review of the current conditions in Haiti and conversations with the Haitian government" to extend the TPS only "... for a limited period of six-months".

A leaked memo from the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recommended that Secretary Kelly end TPS for Haitians, but extend their status for six months in order for it to occur smoothly.

Kelly said the 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".

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MA has the third-largest Haitian population in the United States, after Florida and NY. Immigration advocates had strongly encouraged DHS to extend the designation for a full 18 months, arguing that Haiti needed more time to recover before thousands of people could return to the country safely.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker called Monday's decision a "positive development".

State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry of Dorchester, who is Haitian-American, said the Haitian community is anxious as a federal decision looms. The new extension adds six months.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf told FrontPageAfrica in March that her administration was hoping the United States will reconsider its position and keep Liberians with their families and not separated. I think it's just wrong, fundamentally wrong. They came through Central America to the USA past year looking for work after job opportunities from the World Cup and the Olympics dried up. "Haiti continues to face daily challenges from the quake that laid waste to the country in 2010, the subsequent introduction of cholera by United Nations' troops, and Hurricane Matthew, which devastated the country just past year".

Unfortunately, this was Haiti and Haitians best chance, and it was DHS' opportunity to do the right thing by granting extension for 18 months.

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Wilson urged Homeland Security officials to join her and other congressional leaders in the next six months in a "fact-finding mission" to personally assess conditions on the island before lifting the temporary status protections.

The Haitians have had the special protected status since the catastrophic 7.0-magnitude natural disaster, which destroyed a large portion of Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010.

Senior Department of Homeland Security officials told reporters that Kelly based his decision on conditions including damage to infrastructure and housing and the status of the cholera epidemic and found that conditions had substantially improved since 2010.

Yet President Trump's administration now is on the verge of inflicting more misery on Haiti and the Haitian American community.

Nine countries now have designated temporary protected status. Somalia, South Sudan and Syria are also eligible for the status. 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.

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