Washington, DC, USA : The Trump administration announced Monday it will end the ‘Temporary Protected Status’ immigration program that allowed over 50,000 Haitians to stay in the United States after Haiti was ravaged by an earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people
and obliterated the economy in 2010.
The Temporary Protected Status designation, gives legal immigration status to people from countries impacted by natural disasters.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said they now have until July 22, 2019 to obtain another legal immigration status or return to Haiti.
“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, as required by statute,” the DHS said in the announcement.
“Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”
Critics of the decision said Haiti is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and cannot take in a large influx of people.
“There is no reason to send 60,000 Haitians back to a country that cannot provide for them,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., tweeted Monday. “This decision today by DHS is unconscionable. And I am strongly urging the administration to reconsider. Ultimately, we need a permanent legislative solution.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote an op-ed Friday urging the Trump administration to extend TPS for Haitians.
“If TPS is not extended, Haitians sent home will face dire conditions, including lack of housing, inadequate health services and low prospects for employment,” he wrote. “Failure to renew the TPS designation will weaken Haiti’s economy and impede its ability to recover completely and improve its security.”
Monday’s announcement marked the second time the Trump administration announced an end to TPS status for people from a particular country. On Nov. 6, DHS announced an end to TPS for Nicaraguans who received the status after Hurricane Mitch decimated the country in 1999. The immigration status had been extended numerous times by both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
The United States will end in January 2019 a special status given to 5,300 Nicaraguan immigrants that protects them from deportation, senior Trump administration officials said on November 6th.
The program known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, would be extended until July 2018 for about 86,000 Honduran immigrants, but officials added it could then be terminated.
In the case of Nicaragua, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke decided the conditions caused by Hurricane Mitch “no longer exist, and thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
The TPS for thousands of Nicaraguans was due to expire on Jan. 5, 2018, but it was delayed by 12 months “to allow for an orderly transition.”
“This will provide time for individuals with TPS to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible, or, if necessary, arrange for their departure,” the DHS statement said.
For Honduras, Duke concluded that the DHS needed more time and information to make a determination, so the current TPS designation was extended for six months to July 5, 2018.
The other countries with TPS designations are El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. A decision on Haiti and El Salvador is due later this month.
The program was enacted by Congress in 1990 to protect immigrants fleeing war or natural disasters.
Meanwhile, three members of Congress are reportedly preparing legislation that would allow every TPS recipient to apply for permanent residency.
The bill, dubbed the ASPIRE Act, would let every person covered by TPS before Jan. 1, 2017, apply for permanent residency by proving before a judge that they would face extreme hardship if forced to return home.