Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)
SILVER SPRING, Maryland – “It is reprehensible that the administration has terminated Temporary Protected Status for 50,000 vulnerable Haitians,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. “The administration ignored overwhelming evidence that Haiti is far from ready to accept the return of 50,000 people and their families.”
Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke announced late on Nov. 20 that TPS will be terminated for Haiti on July 22, 2019. That gives Haitians who have lived and worked legally in the United States under TPS 18 months to go home. The announcement came as Americans prepare to observe Thanksgiving, a celebration with its origins in our ancestors’ gratitude for having found refuge in a new land.
Termination of TPS for Haiti is another marker in the administration’s abandonment of the hallowed American tradition to provide shelter for those in need of protection.
“There is no factual basis to assume that within 18 months conditions will have improved enough for the safe return of TPS holders,” Atkinson added. “Experts are estimating that here in the United States, with all our resources, it will still take a decade for Houston to recover from Hurricane Harvey and for Santa Rosa, California, to recover from this year’s fires. The 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti continues to plague everyday life in the poorest country in the hemisphere. To suggest otherwise is abhorrent.”
The provision of TPS for Haiti followed a catastrophic 2010 earthquake that leveled much of the country, killing 230,000 people and affecting three million, about one-third of Haiti’s population. Major hurricanes and cholera have continued to destabilize the country.
“The administration is sending people back to a place where at least 38,000 earthquake victims are still homeless and half the population does not have adequate food. There have been nearly 11,000 new cases of cholera in 2017 alone. On top of that, terminating TPS means an end to the remittances sent home by Haitians who are working productively in our economy. It is a doubly cruel blow to Haiti, cutting off some of the essential income that has been contributing to its recovery,” Atkinson added.
“It was the secretary’s job under the law to determine if extraordinary and temporary conditions in Haiti prevent the safe return of Haitian TPS holders,” said Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC’s advocacy director. “Just six months ago the administration found that such conditions remained. Since then, Haiti has been impacted by two hurricanes, worsening the food and housing crisis. Clearly, this decision by the administration was not based on the facts on the ground.”
DHS is due to decide in January whether to extend TPS for El Salvador, which allows 195,000 people to remain legally in the United States, after a 2001 earthquake that caused catastrophic damage there. “We can only hope that the facts and the law will be correctly applied in that decision,” Atkinson said. In the meantime, she added, “we call on Congress to take immediate action to mitigate this incomprehensible decision and provide protection to the vulnerable Haitian population and other TPS holders here in the United States.”