NILC Responds to Continuation of Haitian TPS Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, media@nilc.org, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org, 202-384-1279

NILC Responds to Continuation of Haitian TPS Program

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly announced today that he has decided to extend the temporary protected status (TPS) designation for Haiti for an additional six months. TPS gives individuals from designated countries temporary permission, on humanitarian grounds, to remain and work in the United States, if they are here at times of great natural disaster or civil strife in their home country.

Thirteen countries, including Haiti, are currently designated as countries whose nationals living in the U.S. may be eligible for TPS. Haiti was added to the list following the devastating 2010 earthquake there.

Just days before the administration’s expected announcement, the Associated Press exposed leaked emails from high-ranking Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials requesting data on Haitian nationals’ use of public benefits and their crime rates. Although DHS officials have denied any connection between these requests and the timing of their decision, the news sent shockwaves through Haitian and immigrants’ rights advocacy communities here in the U.S.

UndocuBlack and the National Immigration Law Center last week filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the agencies involved in the TPS adjudication process to get more information about how the administration arrived at its decision.

Kamal Essaheb, policy and advocacy director at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“This decision is critical to preserving the lives and livelihoods of the approximately 50,000 Haitians who have found relief in our country from extreme circumstances in Haiti and who now call the United States home. We strongly believe an extension of TPS for Haitians is the right decision.

“However, while we are pleased with this progress, a six-month extension will hardly appease the concerns of those who face a return to a country that has been ravaged by natural disasters and continues to experience political and economic turmoil. A longer-term solution is necessary and in the best interest of both the United States and Haiti.

“Furthermore, we cannot overlook the gravity of the Trump administration’s behind-the-scenes attempts to criminalize and vilify Black and immigrant communities. We will continue to fight with our partners to shed light on the administration’s troubling actions in the leadup to this decision.”

The statement issued by DHS today says that more details about this extension of Haiti’s designation for TPS, including requirements for applying for the additional six months of protection, will be published later this week in the Federal Register.

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