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Temporary Protected Status to End for Haiti

On Monday, President Trump’s administration announced that the United States would be ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country of Haiti. Since 2010 citizens from Haiti present in the United States were given permission to live and work following the devastation the deadly earthquake rained upon the country. The TPS program for Haitians has included up to 60,000 citizens from Haiti currently in the country. The earthquake struck at a magnitude that registered at 7.0 on the Richter scale in January 2010. Initially, President Obama granted TPS for Haitians present in the country for 18 months and proceeded to extend it several times. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the TPS for Haitians for one last and final time, with the new and final expiration date to take place in July 2019.

The DHS asserts that conditions in Haiti have improved significantly since the earthquake and citizens should be able to Haiti. Haitian advocates are outraged by the decision, arguing that conditions have not improved enough to deport people to the country. Following the earthquake, Haiti has been hit by three devastating hurricanes since 2016 as well as an outbreak of cholera. Advocates for the Haitians have also argued these additional conditions leave the country ill prepared to receive its returning citizens. They have joined members of Congress from both political parties to ask the president for an 18-month extension of the program. The Haitian President Jovenel Moise has also joined in this request for extension.

Critics of the president’s announcement denounce the plan as heartless and inhumane, raising the question about what will happen to the children born of these TPS recipients who are now United States citizens. These children now face losing their parents to deportation. Currently, there is no plan to address who will be responsible for their care.

Last month the United Nations withdrew its peacekeeping mission in Haiti that had dispatched more than 10,000 in troops on the island. The new mission has reduced the number of aid workers to 1,300 police officers and 350 civilians who will try to continue to help the citizens.

The latest decision won’t affect the thousands of Haitian nationals who fled to Brazil and other South American countries and then began their journey to the U.S. in recent years. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, approximately 6,424 Haitians entered the country through the Mexican border in the past year. These individuals were allowed entry based on humanitarian grounds and were granted parole, which is not a permanent form of relief from removal.

Trump has also ended TPS programs for the nations of Sudan and Nicaragua since taking office earlier this year. Honduras, which has had TPS since 1999, following the disaster brought on by Hurricane Mitch.

Last week democratic senators in California presented a plan to introduce legislation that would protect individuals living in the U.S. currently benefiting from TPS. The new plan would allow eligible individuals to apply for lawful permanent residence within three years.