A 10-year-old girl from Miami who could be deported from the U.S. if Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, isn’t extended for Haitians joined a campaign Monday to raise awareness of the issue.
“I’m not afraid, but I have to be concerned about it,” Vanessa Joseph said during a press conference organized by Haitian Women of Miami. “So I have to keep on fighting for my parents and some TPS recipients.”
Joseph’s parents are Haitian citizens who have been living in the United States under TPS, a federal program that allows people living in counties that are plagued with civil conflict or environmental disasters to live and work in the United States. About 58,000 Haitians are protected from deportation under TPS.
TPS was granted to Haitian nationals under the Obama administration after an earthquake devastated the nation in 2010. The Trump administration announced in May that TPS for Haitians will expire January 22.
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Haitian Women of Miami encouraged South Florida residents who could qualify for TPS to apply right up to the midnight deadline on Monday, even though some have already received letters from the Department of Homeland Security stating that they must leave the country in six months, according to Marleine Bastien, executive director of the organization.
The organization launched the campaign to mark the start of the 180-day countdown to the expiration of TPS for Haitians, Bastien said. She said that through the campaign, the organization will talk with business and political leaders who may be able to influence the Trump administration to further extend TPS.
“We wish for the business community to support our campaign because, as you can imagine, 80 percent of TPS-holders are working,” Bastien said. “They are our teachers, professors, business owners. They are very heavy in our industries here in Florida... so we need the chambers of commerce to come and support.”
She said the end goal is for TPS recipients who have resided in the United States for several years to be granted permanent status.
North Miami City Councilman Alix Desulme said he is working on a resolution urging the administration not to deport Haitian refugees.
He said he hopes that passing the resolution will encourage leaders who have access to the White House “to talk to the president so that resolution can come sooner [rather] than later.”
“This is going directly to the president and as many of these resolutions we can get, the better off it is,” Desulme said.