For Haitians who came to US after earthquake, another deportation reprieve

For Haitians who came to US after earthquake, another deportation reprieve

The DHS in its statement issued Monday urged Haitian TPS recipients who do not have another immigration status to use the time before January 22, 2018 to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States - including proactively seeking travel documentation - or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is extending humanitarian protections for Haitians living in the US who were affected by a 2010 quake that struck the island nation for an additional six months.

Kelly noted that before the expiration of this program, the United States would re-assess the designation for Haiti and determine whether displaced persons from the country would be granted temporary permission to stay in the US.

Haitian immigrant communities primarily are in South Florida, New York, New Jersey and eastern MA.

The future of some 50,000 Haitians depended on the decision, as the program was set to expire on July 22. "Six months from now, we'll be facing the exact same situation".

The renewal announced Monday is for only six months and Homeland Security officials said Haitian immigrants should start getting their affairs in order, including acquiring travel documents. The officials briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity despite President Donald Trump's insistence that anonymous sources shouldn't be trusted. The decision affects more than 58,000 Haitians in the U.S. The country has also dealt with a cholera epidemic that killed 9,000, a long drought, and last year's Hurricane Matthew, the biggest storm to hit Haiti in 50 years. In an April 10 memo to Kelly, James W. McCament said "conditions in Haiti no longer support its designation for TPS", but suggested delaying the effective date of the termination for six months to allow "for a period of orderly transition" for Haitian nationals.

Unfortunately, this was Haiti and Haitians best chance, and it was DHS' opportunity to do the right thing by granting extension for 18 months.

That's why some experts and Haitian officials worry that cutting off the designation may have ramifications beyond the immediate repatriation of tens of thousands of Haitians.

Some other USA lawmakers and immigration advocates had urged DHS to extend Haiti's TPS status for 18 months. They said reports on crime rates and use of social services by specific groups were separate from decisions on TPS.

State Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Lantana, whose Palm Beach County district has a large Haitian-American population, said he and others would redouble their efforts to convince the Trump administration to continue the protected status. Immigration was a top campaign issue and one that's important to his political base. America needs a smart, compassionate deportation policy in cases where a safe return can't be guaranteed, or a home country cannot successfully reintegrate its own people. A USA government official says the Trump administration has agreed to extend it by at least six months.

Kelly says he has not made a final decision about the fate of the protection program for Haiti. "Also indicative of Haiti's success in recovering from the quake seven years ago is the Haitian government's stated plans to rebuild the Haitian President's residence at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, and the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti", said Kelly.

"They are trying to play with words, claiming they are extending it for six months", Bastien said.

"The reality is that in six months Haiti will still be in no position to absorb and aid 58,000 unemployed people", she said in a statement.

Susan Church, chair of the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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