Filed Under:  National

The Trump administration ending a temporary residency permit program affectings thousands of Haitians

27th November 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Della Hasselle
Contributing Writer

President Donald Trump’s administration has announced the end to a humanitarian program that has allowed nearly 60,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since a devastating earthquake hit their country in 2010.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the termination of a program called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals. The program is expected to end for Haitians on July 22, 2019.

The decision rocked Haitian communities in Florida and New York, according to several news reports, and prompted outcry from humanitarian organizations throughout the United States.

Officials announced the end to the program after meeting with Haitian government officials and U.S.-based Haitian communities, the administration said.

In her announcement, made public on Monday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said her decision follows her predecessor’s analysis that in May that Haiti had made “considerable progress.”

“The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals,” Duke said. “Those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist.”

Tom Jawetz, vice president for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, disagreed, calling the decision “unprincipled” and “heartless.”

Jawetz underscored that conditions in Haiti had worsened in recent months after the country experienced additional flooding and devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. He advise those affected by the administration’s decision to seek legal advice and guidance about how to apply for an additional 18 months of protection.

“The administration today created tremendous fear and uncertainty for 50,000 Haitians that have been living and working in the country lawfully for many years, as well as their 27,000 U.S.-born children,” Jawetz said in a statement. “Congress must now get to work once more cleaning up the mess left behind by an administration intent on pursuing a policy of mass deportation.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent since 2010.

Duke said her predecessor, Secretary John Francis Kelly, had recommended the program end in January. The 18-month extension will allow time for Haitian nationals to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, she said.

The Center for American Progress estimates that as of the beginning of they year, 320,000 people held the temporary protection status in the United States from 10 designated countries.

The designation was created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990.

It was meant to shield those coming to the country from deportation if U.S. officials determined that extenuating circumstances, such as natural disasters or war, had created instability in their countries.

More than 90 percent of people who qualified for temporary protection as of January are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, according to the Center’s Immigration Team, and most live in Florida and New York.

There are 4,000 people with such protection status in Louisiana, according to the Center for American Progress, but roughly 3,800 of them are Hondurans.

Monday’s decision also signaled a possible end to protected status for other beneficiaries, including the largest group, nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador.

The Department of Homeland Security is slated to announce whether it will rescind or renew protection for those individuals by the end of the year.

Haitian native Gemima St. Louis, an associate professor at William James College, a psychology institution in New England, called the decision “callous” and ”disheartening.”

More than 5,000 protected Haitians currently reside in Massachusetts, she said, and many of them are women and children who migrated to the U.S. after the earthquake.

“As trauma survivors, they have established a new home in the state, are pursuing career and educational opportunities, and have built strong connections with local schools, churches and other social networks in the community. Repatriating these vulnerable children and families will cause significant disruptions to their lives and will have long-term negative impacts on their well-being,” St. Louis said.

St. Louis also said that the socioeconomic and geopolitical conditions have not improved in Haiti.

“The most humane approach is to ensure that, as a nation of immigrants, we provide permanent protection to the Haitian children, adults and families who are now facing an uncertain future and to offer the necessary support to ensure their safety and ability to thrive in the U.S.,” she added.

This article originally published in the November 27, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.