On Monday, the Trump Administration announced that it was canceling the special temporary protected status for Haitians. Those enrolled in the temporary residence program will have until mid-2019 to file for legal status or risk being deported.
It’s been seven years since Haiti’s devastating earthquake and the Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke believes that the country has recovered enough to take back almost the 60,000 with TPS in the U.S.
“The law makes clear that TPS for Haiti must end,” said a senior administration official.
Duke also ended the TPS for 5,300 Nicaraguans about a month ago and then also postponed a decision to keep the TPS for 86,000 Hondurans to six months from now. Next year, the government will have to decide what to do with the 260,000 Salvadorans who were granted TPS from a 2001 crisis.
The Haitians have protection until July 22, 2019, which is 18 months. All have been given work permits and many have had children while in the country, complicating matters more.
Trump officials defend the recent decisions to end the TPS programs because they were meant as short-term relief program.
“The law says if conditions on the ground do not support it, you cannot extend the TPS designation,” said a senior administration official.
Officials said that Duke "determined that temporary conditions as result of the earthquake no longer exist and as pursuant to statute [TPS] must not be extended."
However, the former Obama administration would almost automatically renew the statuses, even if the crisis happened 20 years ago.
The Trump Administration has been sensitive to the 2010 Haiti earthquake victims and even renewed the TPS grant by six months. However, the secretary at the time, John F. Kelly, said the TPS would soon be ending.
Kellye said that 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."
This week, Duke made it official.
Immigration rights groups are demanding that the Haitians with TPS be given a quick pathway to getting full citizenship. The New York Immigration Coalition went as far to say that the decision is “cruel and shameful.”
Frank Sharry, executive director of the liberal immigrant rights group America’s Voice, believes the decision was done with malicious intent and "not because of careful analysis of the country conditions but because of the strong push of nativists who want to drive people out of the country."
The Haitian government claims that the country has yet to fully recover from the natural disaster. Now the country is experiencing a cholera epidemic and 50,000 people have been reported to still be displaced.
“Yes we’ve made a lot of progress on cholera, but if you’re looking closely at the efforts that are being made, it does not meet, in our view, according to your statute, the level of progress, condition on the ground,” said Paul G. Altidor, a Haitian ambassador last week. “I’m hoping this is a decision that’s being made based on the statute and the facts rather than it’s purely politically motivated. Because once it’s politically motivated, you can always find a reason why you undo this program today.”
Altidor also said that Haitian government wants to bring the citizens back home, but only when they are ready to handle it.
“We’re never making an argument [to] please find a way for these people to stay here permanently. That’s not our argument, that’s not our approach to this issue,” said Altidor.
However, the Trump administration is abiding by the TPS statute.
“Administration officials said the TPS statute leaves little room for interpretation, and gave Duke no choice but to terminate Haiti's TPS,” write The Hill. “According to their interpretation, first espoused publicly by Kelly, only country conditions directly linked to the disaster that initiated the TPS designation can be taken into account to decide whether to extend or terminate TPS.:
Author’s note: We noted that 'protected status' for refugees would be ending soon. We were compassionate after the earthquake, but now it is time for them to return home. The keyword in “Temporary Protected Status” is temporary.