Senior Trump administration officials announced Monday the upcoming end of temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians, a special designation applied to 59,000 Haitians after a massive natural disaster devastated the island nation in 2010.
The TPS policy change will require Haitians living in the USA under the program to leave the country by July 2019 or face deportation. The Trump administration's decision to not extend the humanitarian program for Haiti makes it the second country this month to get a heads up that their citizens' time here is running out.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump's acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced a decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status designation for Haiti, with a delayed effective date of 18 months.
"The community is very anxious", said Andrés Zaldivar, a South Hempstead resident and former TPS recipient who was granted political amnesty and is now a USA citizen.
"We are creating illegality for a segment of people", said Mimi Pierre Johnson, a Haitian-American community activist who hosts a political discussion show on Radio Kreyol 89.7 FM.
It also confirms concerns about the program that have been growing since earlier this year, when the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an arm of DHS, concluded that protections for Haitians were no longer necessary, and former DHS Secretary John Kelly renewed their protected status for a shorter term than normal, warning them to prepare to return to Haiti.
Joe Dessources, 67, a Haitian who lives in Sheepshead Bay and is now a citizen, agreed. "Everybody wants to come to America", Joseph said.
Members of the Baltimore-area Haitian group Komite Ayiti - Haitian Creole for "Haiti Committee" - are anxious about themselves and friends and relatives, President Garry Bienaime said. You can also join or follow the Black Immigration Network (BlackImmigration.Net)-a national alliance of more than 50 Black-led organizations and community groups that promotes just migration policies rooted in racial equity and serves to strengthen solidarity among all people of African descent. "A lot of them have TPS", she says.
Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said, "We're relieved there is an extension of TPS for 18 months, but we remain concerned that Haiti won't be ready to take back 58,000 Haitians across the USA and 5,800 here in Massachusetts".
Some critics dispute that Haiti has recovered and question how Duke reached such a conclusion. He cited lack of housing, insufficient health services and low prospects for employment. In the World Bank's ease of doing business index, Haiti ranks 181st of 190 countries. "I have two girls that are going to graduate this year". However, the executive director of Charlottesville's Building Goodness Foundation disagrees.
But critics said impoverished Haiti is not prepared for an influx of returnees.
- CASA (@CASAforall) November 21, 2017Trump terminated TPS for Haiti today.
Ricot Dupuy, station manager of Radio Soleil, a Haitian-themed broadcaster in NY, said he thinks the decision is racially motivated. "For us to take that away for no good reason is ridiculous and cruel".
"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not stupid". Some clients are anxious to renew their TPS and give their address, afraid their information will then make them an easy target for deportation.
Dupuy said if someone came into the U.S.to sell drugs or commit terrorism, or got in trouble with the police, they should be deported.
Last week, the agency warned 29 "sanctuary" cities, counties and states that they would soon have federal funds cut off.