Currently, an estimated 58,000 Haitians are living in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS is a special immigration status meant to be temporary. It is given to foreign nationals from countries where the United States thinks that it would be inhumane to send them back because of natural disasters or civil unrest.
Haitians were granted TPS in 2010 after the devastating earthquake. It has been seven years since the designation was given, however, the country still has not recovered and there has been a series of additional disasters since. President Donald Trump need TPS for Haitians needs to be re-designated by .
Trump’s USCIS director has recommended that TPS not be renewed because, according to him, conditions in Haiti no longer support the designation.
I disagree. Haiti is facing a humanitarian crisis. The possible mass deportation of Haitians from the United States will worsen the situation. The country’s vulnerable infrastructure will crumble. Seven years later, Haiti still has not recovered from the earthquake. Billions of dollars were pledged to rebuild Haiti from the international community. However, the money was either mismanaged or used for other purposes, as we saw with the Red Cross debacle. With $500 million donated, the Red Cross managed to build only six homes in Haiti. After the earthquake, U.N. soldiers dumped human remains in a river causing a cholera outbreak. The disease has killed more than 9,300 people in Haiti, and left 790,840 people sick as of August 20, 2016.
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In September 2016, a Category Four hurricane, Matthew, hit the southern region of Haiti. More than 1,000 people died and more than 20,000 homes were destroyed. A larger outbreak of cholera was expected as a result of the hurricane. President Obama’s administration decided to start deporting Haitians to Haiti even after the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. This was a mistake and a clear disregard for human suffering.
USCIS’ assertions that conditions have improved enough in Haiti to warrant a change in policy are misguided. Candidate Trump came to Little Haiti in Miami and told the community “I really want to be your biggest champion.” This is the time for him, as president, to keep his promise. Renewing TPS for Haitians follows current immigration guidelines of designating a foreign country for the status. Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake, the cholera outbreak, and the recent hurricane. These 58,000 Haitian TPS holders are vetted every year. They have no criminal records, are hard-working, pay taxes, and have lived in the United States for at least seven years.
Even under Trump’s administration, they do not rank high for removal priorities. At this time, it makes both logical and economic sense to renew TPS for Haitians. It will cost taxpayers more money to deport these low-priority immigrants than it would to renew the TPS designation.
Patricia Elizee is the managing partner of Elizee Law Firm. She is the immediate past president of the Haitian Lawyers Association.