Haitian Immigrants With Temporary Status Are Given 18 Months To Leave (Video)

We recently learned the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted leniency to 4,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients whose renewal documents had been sitting unclaimed in a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) mailbox.

But before we jump to any conclusions about President Donald Trump’s immigration policies not being as authoritarian as we were initially led to believe, we turn to the most recent attack on immigrants.

Trump now is coming after Haitians who have lived and worked in the United States since a 2010 earthquake devastated their already impoverished Caribbean island nation.

The DHS informed 50,000 Haitians this week they have 18 months remaining on their temporary protected status (TPS).

According to a DHS statement, 18-months is to “allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019.”

Acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke’s decision follows then-Secretary John Kelly’s announcement that Haiti was recovering from the earthquake, and Haitians’ statuses would likely end after a final six-month extension issued earlier this year.

The statement said:

“Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent. Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens. Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.”

On a press call with reporters, TPS beneficiary Peterson Exais–in this country since age nine–stated:

“Haiti is in a really bad condition. I would like to call on Congress to please, please make your choices wisely. This decision is very selfish. I am a human, you are a human, this is my home, and America is my home. I consider myself American in every way except the papers I don’t have.”

American Immigration Council Policy Director, Royce Bernstein Murray, said:

“I think it’s a tragedy on a few levels. Certainly for the Haitians who have been living and working here to support their families, but also for the communities and employers who’ve come to know them and rely on them as trusted neighbors and employees. Just six months ago the Department of Homeland Security recognized that Haiti continued to meet the criteria for designation based on the earthquake, as well as subsequent conditions. Since then there have been two hurricanes and an emerging diphtheria outbreak.”

TPS Haitians have 27,000 American-born children. 20 percent own homes. They are also vital to our workforce, particularly construction in Florida, as it recovers from Hurricane Irma.

They are the third nationality in the past three months to have their protected status terminated, following Nicaraguans and Sudanese, who are set to lose their protections in 2018 and 2019.

The more than 325,000 individuals from 10 countries that currently hold temporary protected status live uncertainly in this country for years, sometimes decades.

Image credit: lr21.com.uy


Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.