aT 5:04 P.M., It was announced that President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security has granted Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the United States whose visas have expired or may expire, and who were subject to deportation.
HERE WAS THE EARLIER POST, filed before the TPS announcement:
Last February, local Haitian-American activists rallied to urge the U.S. government to halt U.S. deportations of Haitians amid the devastation suffered in the Caribbean nation devastated by hurricanes, and already before that the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. They were among those advocating for the Department of Homeland Security to grant eligible Haitian immigrants temporary protection status, or TPS.
Now, the push is on again to grant Haitian immigrants facing deportation TPS, a temporary immigration status granted by the United States to eligible nationals of certain countries who are unable to safely return to their home countries because of armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
Editorials supporting TPS appeared today in the Miami Herald and New York Times. U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, who pushed the Obama administration to grant TPS for Haitian immigrants last year, sent out a press release this evening encouraging TPS status for Haitians whose visas have expired or may expire, subjecting them to deportation.
He included a letter to the president, which reads:
Dear Mr. President:
On Tuesday, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. This terrible event has killed thousands in the Port-au-Prince area and destroyed countless buildings. We thank you for extending to the people of Haiti the deep condolences and unwavering support of the American people and directing your administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives.
As members of Congress from New York, home to a very large Haitian diaspora community, we know that Haiti’s emergency needs are overwhelming. Even with the death and casualty toll still unknown, the immediate need for food, medicines, water, emergency shelter, and equipment are obvious. It is also clear that there will be an even greater need for a long-term commitment to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, as well as educational, security, and economic assistance. As the leader in our hemisphere and Haiti’s most important political partner, the U.S. should lead the way in supporting these efforts.
In the short term, we urgently request that you immediately direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians currently in the United States. As you know, nationals of a country may be designated for TPS when that country has suffered an environmental disaster resulting in a substantial, temporary disruption of living conditions and it is temporarily unable to handle adequately the return of its nationals. We believe that with Tuesday’s severe earthquake Haiti has more than exceeded the conditions for TPS designation and should be designated without delay.
Just over one year ago, Haiti was struck by severe flooding following hurricanes and storms, destroying much of the infrastructure of the country. Before yesterday’s earthquake, Haiti was only beginning to recover from that disaster. Given yesterday’s calamity, Haiti is completely incapable of handling an influx of thousands of additional people if they were sent back from the United States.
TPS has been routinely extended to nationals of various countries which have suffered natural disasters. In the Western Hemisphere, alone, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, are covered by TPS designations. Given the devastation in Haiti, it would be incomprehensible if TPS was not extended to Haiti, as well.
It is our understanding that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton have halted all removals to Haiti for the time being in response to the devastation caused by yesterday’s earthquake. We urge you to take the next step and to designate Haitian nationals in the United States for TPS.
Again, as members of Congress from New York, the home of a very large Haitian diaspora community, we thank you for your assistance to the people of Haiti at this difficult time, and we look forward to hearing from you about Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in the United States.