Haitian immigrants living in the US have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by the Biden administration. The TPS US immigration program protects nationals from certain countries from deportation and allows them to apply for US work permits. Those eligible for the Haitian TPS designation needed to be in the US as of May 21.
TPS will be granted to Haitians for a period of 18 months amid ongoing security concerns, poverty and human rights abuses in the country.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, said: “Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and a lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Safely return home
“After careful consideration, we determined that we must do what we can to support Haitian nationals in the United States until conditions in Haiti improve so they may safely return home,” Mayorkas added.
According to a BuzzFeed report, which first broke the news, the announcement could affect more than 100,000 Haitian nationals. TPS will apply to Haitians who have been in the US as far back as 2010.
A DHS statement said: “The designation of Haiti for TPS also is not contrary to the national interest of the United States.”
TPS has been widely criticized in the past, while former US President Donald Trump attempted to scrap the measure, until it was surprisingly extended in December 2020 prior to Trump leaving office.
Critics of TPS argue that it protects people who are in the US illegally and is often extended well beyond the immediate timeframe of an initial emergency or crisis.
Haiti was first designated for TPS back in 2010 following a massive earthquake, which devastated the country. The status has since been extended multiple times, including in 2017, until Trump attempted to scrap in July 2019.
Trump’s efforts were scuppered by legal challenges and under the Biden administration, activist groups have campaigned for TPS to be redesignated to Haiti.
Democrats welcome TPS extension
News that TPS will be extended for Haitians has been welcomed by Democrats in the House and Senate.
Democratic Senator for New Jersey, Bob Menendez said: “I applaud the Biden administration’s decision to support the people of Haiti and reaffirm our commitment to a more humane and principled approach to immigration.”
“As Haiti passes through an acute political and security crisis and faces enduring humanitarian challenges, this decision provides urgently needed protections for eligible Haitians in the United States,” Menendez added.
Meanwhile, Republican representative for New York, Mondaire Jones, said: “I am proud that the Biden administration has heeded my call to redesignate Haiti for TPS. At a time when Haiti is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation humanitarian crisis, this redesignation will save lives.”
However, critics were skeptical of the redesignation, while the DHS argued that it is in the ‘national interest to renew the designation’.
However, the head of government relations for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), RJ Nauman, disputed the national interest claim, saying: “Anything that Secretary Mayorkas does on US immigration is not in the national interest and this redesignation is yet another example.”
“The original Haitian TPS designation came in 2010 due to an earthquake. The Biden administration is destroying even more public confidence in US immigration programs functioning as intended – namely, providing short term relief to people whose nations have been disrupted by a natural disaster or a political crisis. I hope the American people are watching,” Nauman added.
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