Washington, D.C., USA: The Trump administration has banned three countries, Haiti, Belize and Samoa, from applying for H-2A (agricultural) and H-2B (non-agricultural) work Visas. The temporary workers’ visa has for decades allowed hundreds of U.S. farmers, hoteliers and other business owners to hire thousands of foreign seasonal workers.
But citing Haitians’ “extremely high rates of refusal… high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying the terms of their H-2 admission,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Haiti’s inclusion on the lists of eligible countries for 2018 “is no longer in the U.S. interest.” It also announced that the English-speaking Central American country of Belize is banned, as well as Samoa in the central South Pacific Ocean.
Belize was reportedly banned from the list of countries whose citizens can apply for work Visas because of its standing on the 2017 US State Department report on Human Trafficking. In that report, Belize ranked the worst among all Central American nations with a tier 3 rating.
The report cited Belize as being a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; adding that sex trafficking and forced labor of Belizean and foreign women and girls, primarily from Central America, occur in bars, nightclubs, brothels and domestic service.
The report also noted that high ranking government officials were complicit in facilitating human trafficking in Belize. Prime Minister Dean Barrow, following the release of the report, refuted the State Department’s position. “I certainly reject that. I don’t know that the report offers any evidence to substantiate that claim, but that is not something that I would accept,” Barrow told the media in July 2017.
Belize is being excluded because it is included by the US on the list of countries that do not meet standards on human trafficking and are not making efforts to do so, a notice from the US Department of Homeland Services said. Samoa was removed because it does not take back its deported nationals from the US, an issue referred to as recalcitrant countries.
Haiti’s justification, though, cites “extremely high rates of refusal,” “high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying” their visas when they end. It did not provide any statistics or further evidence.
Katie Waldman, a DHS spokeswoman, said “the decision to remove Haiti, Belize and Samoa from the H-2A & H-2B lists was made as a result of inter-agency coordination between DHS and the Department of State.”
Thursday’s release of the new guest worker regulation comes on the same day that DHS is scheduled to finally release guidelines for Haitians enrolled in the special humanitarian program known as Temporary Protected Status to re-register. The program allows Haitians in the U.S. to legally live and work in the country.
In November, the U.S government announced an end to TPS for nearly 60,000 Haitians in July 2019, but Haitians must apply for re-authorization to remain in the country until then. Haitians have been waiting for the notice on reapplying to extend their TPS documents since the November announcement.
But DHS’ failure to publish the guidelines until now has created panic. Many Haitians are worried that they could lose their jobs and ability to drive because their Florida driver’s license is tied to their work authorization.
Sharon Scheidhauer, a DHS spokeswoman, said the TPS Haiti Federal Register notice will provide details about the re-registration period — including the required forms, filing period and ways to extend the employment authorization document. DHS, she said, will automatically extend the validity of employment authorizations for Haitians with TPS for 180 days through July 21, 2018.
“This delay is really putting people’s jobs and livelihood in jeopardy,” said Adonia Simpson, a lawyer with the nonprofit Americans for Immigrant Justice.
The move comes days after US President Donald Trump caused controversy over his tirade that El Salvador, Haiti and African nations were “shitholes countries”.
During a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Trump asked why “all these people from shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations were coming to the U.S. Trump said he wanted people coming to America from countries like Norway instead.
Before he was even elected, Trump raised the ire of many Latinos when he announced he wanted to build a wall to keep Mexicans from coming into the U.S. Most of the people here illegally, he said at a press conference, were “criminals and rapists.” He wanted those “bad hombres” kept out.
Then, months into his presidency, Trump was quoted saying he didn’t want anyone else from Haiti coming to the U.S. because “they all have AIDS.” Later, he told some staff that there were too many Nigerians in the U.S., and future immigration policy should cut way, way back. If you let them in, he warned, they’ll never “go back to their huts.”
Black Americans didn’t escape unscathed either. They should stop their blind allegiance to the Democrats and vote for him, Trump said at a 2016 campaign event, because, “What the hell do you have to lose?” The inner cities, he insisted, were full of crime and poverty — “they’re just hell.”.
Later in the year, Charlottesville, Va., erupted, and white nationalists streamed through the university town’s streets, carrying torches and chanting about how they refused to be replaced by Jews or people of color. There would be no questioning their superiority as white people.
Counterprotests erupted; some became violent, and one woman, Hether Hayer, was killed when a white fascist drove into an integrated crowd and mowed down several people.
Yet the nation waited two days for Trump’s reaction or statement. And when it finally came, many were shocked. In a brief news conference, the president chided the media for its uneven coverage, even as leaders of his own party squirmed on the sidelines. “There are very fine people on both sides,” Trump insisted, saying that antifa demonstrators bore some of the blame for the chaos too.