Haiti has asked the Trump administration to grant an 18-month deportation amnesty to its citizens who are already in the U.S., saying the island nation is still struggling to recover from the 2010 earthquake and can’t handle return of tens of thousands of people.
Haitian Ambassador Paul G. Altidor, in a letter first reported by the Miami Herald, invited acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to visit Haiti to see the continued struggles first-hand, saying she would conclude that another 18-month reprieve “is a necessity.”
He said an ongoing cholera epidemic and new pressure from last year’s Hurricane Matthew have created new disruptions beyond the earthquake, that have made the country’s recovery tougher.
Homeland Security is in the midst of making a decision, but has signaled it won’t simply renew protections, as previous administrations sometimes did.
“This is the choice that’s being made is they aren’t going to continue to treat this program in ways that aren’t intended,” said department spokesman David Lapan.
The Trump administration earlier this year granted a six-month extension but then-Secretary John F. Kelly — now the White House chief of staff — had signaled that Haitians should be prepared for an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which they’ve enjoyed since the earthquake.
Mr. Kelly said the law governing TPS says it is supposed to be a temporary status that’s in place only as long as the conditions from the original disaster remain.
The current six-month protection runs out in late January, but a decision must come two months before that.
Homeland Security also has to decide on TPS renewals for several Central American countries that have been under protected status since the turn of the century, meaning a pool of illegal immigrants has been shielded from deportation to those countries for more than 15 years.
Some 46,000 Haitians are protected by TPS, while 86,000 people from Honduras and 263,000 people from El Salvador are protected.
TPS beneficiaries are granted work permits, allowing them to hold jobs, get driver’s licenses and social security numbers and some taxpayer benefits.
Mr. Kelly earlier this year said that abuse of TPS by past administrations had created a situation where some of those people who’ve been protected for nearly two decades have put down roots, and may need to be granted full legal status — a move that would have to come from Congress.
By Stephen Dinan | October 19, 2017