The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitians will be extended for another 18 months, and so will allow Haitian nationals to legally live and work in the U.S. until January 2013. The extension will permit approximately 48,000 Haitians to remain in this country legally while their homeland continues to be plagued by disease and instability. Additionally, there will be a re-designation that will allow Haitian nationals who arrived up to a year after the earthquake and who have continuously resided in the U.S. through January 12, 2011 to obtain TPS despite the fact that the application deadline expired months ago. However, those who arrived to the U.S. after that date will not be eligible for TPS, nor will those who have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors, or those subjected to “security or criminal-related bars of admission” or “bars to asylum.”
The devastating earthquake that took place in 2010 killed an estimated 230,000 Haitians and caused $14 billion in damages. As if that were not enough, Haiti was subsequently hit hard once again with a cholera outbreak which the World Health Organization estimates killed nearly 2,500 people and infected close to 250,000. For that reason, the DHS has been applauded for its decision to extend TPS to Haitians even though its affiliated department, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), has already resumed deportations of “serious offenders” back to Haiti. Given that the ongoing conditions in Haiti show little signs of significant improvement, immigration advocates have asked DHS officials to apply the same executive authority to suspend the deportations proceedings for those Haitians facing this fate. Nevertheless, one can be sure that the new extension and re-designation of the immigration status for Haitians comes as a blessing for them all.