Some 55,000 Haitians in the United States who received protection from deportation in 2010, when a major earthquake devastated their land and killed 300,000, may be forced to return to their country next year if indications by Trump administration officials prove true.
The possibility of an end to their special classification, known as Temporary Protect Status (TPS), is creating concern among the immigrants, who have built lives – raising children, starting business and in some cases achieved middle-class status – and worry about returning to a country where poverty and substandard living conditions remain prevalent.
The rebuilding of places that were reduced to rubble after a magnitude 7 earthquake has been slow. More than 750,000 people still don’t have safe water for drinking and cooking. Since the earthquake, Haiti also has suffered a cholera outbreak that killed 9,000.
Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, also is still trying to recuperate from Hurricane Matthew, which tore through southern Haiti last October and left more than 900 people dead and $2.8 billion in damages.
The Haitians’ TPS is scheduled to expire in July. The Trump administration must decide by the end of this month whether to extend it, and if so for how long. TPS renewal usually lasts 18 months, but James McCament, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has recommended the end of the protection for Haitians by next January. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who would make the decision about TPS for Haitians, McCament wrote that conditions in Haiti “no longer support its designation for TPS.”
TPS, created by Congress in 1990, gives temporary immigration status to foreign nationals living in the United States who cannot go back home because of war, natural disasters or other extraordinary circumstances that make it too dangerous or difficult to return. Among nations that have TPS are Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria, Somalia, Nepal and Sudan.
Some immigration and Haiti experts say the McCament’s conclusion is preposterous.
Gregory Z. Chen, director of government relations for American Immigration Lawyers Association, said: “It’s astounding that this administration would consider ending TPS in just a few months, in the beginning of next year, for Haitians with the reality that a humanitarian crisis in Haiti is still dire.”
Chen noted that last year USCIS did a review of conditions in Haiti that found them to be serious enough to meet TPS extension requirements.
Many immigrant groups and advocacy organizations are concerned that if Haitians lose TPS, it will be the beginning of the end of the status for many other groups that have it, some going back 20 or more years.
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SOURCE: Fox News, Elizabeth Llorente