Tuesday evening the Administration announced that TPS for Haitians would be extended for 18 months ahead of the program’s termination. HAWG members are concerned that the decision was made solely based on evaluating conditions after the earthquake almost 8 years ago. Compounding effects of cholera, food insecurity and multiple hurricanes have left Haiti very vulnerable to minor shocks.

(Statements of individual organizations may not reflect the opinions of all HAWG members).

From the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH):

DHS Distorts Law and Precedent to Ignore Glaring Facts on Haiti TPS​

Advocates call decision on Temporary Protected Status for Haitians disingenuous, vow to continue fight

The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), an advocacy group that supports equal treatment of Haitians in the United States, criticized the November 20 decision of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. The decision was based on a finding that the “temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist.”  Unconscionably, DHS refused to consider massive blows that struck Haiti after the earthquake that make it unsafe for Haitians to return home.  The failure to consider more recent crises is a departure from decades of precedent, including the May 24, 2017 DHS justification for extending Haiti’s TPS designation for six months.

“DHS could not overcome the mountain of evidence establishing that Haiti has recently endured precisely the extraordinary blows contemplated by the TPS statute, specifically an unchecked cholera epidemic and October 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, which DHS itself cited in its analysis as recently as May,” said Steve Forester, IJDH’s Immigration Policy Coordinator. “Haiti is a textbook case for TPS, but the Department cynically moved the goalposts, ignoring the realities on the ground to justify a result determined by an anti-immigrant agenda, not facts.”

TPS was granted to Haiti for 18 months following the January 2010 earthquake. The status allows Haitians in the United States to stay in the country and work while their homeland recovers. It applies to 50,000 Haitians, who have an estimated 27,000 American citizen children. The status has been periodically extended because the country has not yet recovered from the earthquake and has been struck by subsequent crises, including the worst cholera epidemic of modern times and the country’s worst hurricane in 50 years.

“It is no consolation to deported families faced with food shortages, damaged infrastructure and cholera that many of those conditions occurred after the earthquake,” according to Forester. “TPS is a humanitarian law that does not contemplate this cruel result, which will be challenged.”

“The Administration made a political decision earlier this year to remove Haitians from the U.S.,” said Brian Concannon Jr., IJDH’s Executive Director. “Ever since, it has been trying to contort the facts and law to fit that political decision.” A leaked April 27, 2017 DHS email instructed field offices to “squeeze more data” of crime and public benefits use in the broader Haitian-American community, in order to make a public case against TPS. But these factors are not legally relevant, because TPS holders are ineligible for public benefits and criminal activity disqualifies one from TPS.

“Yesterday’s decision was a dispiriting decision for TPS holders and everyone who cares about them or the rule of law,” said Concannon. “But it is not the last word, we will keep fighting for a more just outcome.”

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From The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church is disappointed in the Administration’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for more than 50,000 Haitians. Conditions in Haiti are currently unsafe and unstable, with critical lack of improvement since the 2010 earthquake compounded by devastation from Hurricane Matthew and a cholera epidemic. TPS is a tool by which the administration allows nationals of certain countries experiencing conflict or natural disaster to stay in the U.S. in safety. While this should be a temporary safety tool, at this time Haiti cannot safely repatriate 50,000 people, and the decision to terminate the program will harm our communities, the Haitians who will be forced to return, and communities in Haiti.

Haitian TPS holders have been able to rebuild their lives, work, and raise families in safety. Forcing these individuals to return will put them at risk and further hamper Haiti’s ongoing recovery and development efforts. We encourage the administration to review this decision and continue to provide positive assistance toward Haiti’s development.

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From Oxfam America:

Oxfam condemns the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, and deport the more than 50,000 Haitians who currently live in the United States with that status. These vulnerable people will be forcibly returned to a country not yet recovered from the devastating 2010 earthquake, and the massive hurricanes and cholera epidemics that followed. Haiti is in no condition right now to accept deportees.

“Deciding to end TPS for Haiti is heartless and inhumane. This decision will rip apart families who have been living in the United States for almost a decade, sending them back to a country that is still facing a humanitarian crisis and is unable to provide safe refuge for deportees. It is simply unacceptable that the United States will be unnecessarily sending Haitians to live in treacherous conditions. We are turning our backs on our country’s proud legacy of being a beacon of hope for the vulnerable,” said Lia Lindsey, Oxfam America’s Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor.

In Haiti, there are still 38,000 people internally displaced by the 2010 earthquake and cholera remains a severe problem, with nearly 11,000 new cases and 100 deaths this year alone. Hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition impacts millions of Haitian families across the country; meanwhile hurricanes earlier this year caused damage to crops and livestock. “These ongoing humanitarian issues are examples of conditions that make forced return of thousands of people untenable and cruel,” continued Ms. Lindsey.

“TPS holders are a part of America’s multicultural social fabric, an essential component of our communities and our country,” said Ms. Lindsey. “The beneficiaries of this program have lived in the US on average for 20 years, have had children, built businesses, and bought homes. They are taxpayers and contribute Social Security and Medicaid.  But now, under the Trump administration, they are facing deportation to countries that are not safe or prepared for their return.”

Oxfam does not support the lifting of TPS from any of the 10 countries with that designation. All 10 countries are still facing tremendous natural and/or manmade disasters that make conditions unsafe for returnees. This program allows people to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation because the conditions do not exist for them to safely return to their countries. We are urging Congress to pass legislation that puts all TPS holders on a permanent path towards citizenship.