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Filing Extension Granted for Haitian TPS – Welcome News
By: Christie Valentine* and Allison Posner**
Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. TPS Workshop
This week, Alejandro Mayorkas, the Director of USCIS, announced that the agency has extended the deadline for Haitians filing applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) until January 18, 2011. Previously, Haitians had until July 20, 2010 to apply for TPS. This is an important step in ensuring that the needs of this vulnerable population are being met in a timely manner. Already over 35,000 applications have been approved, and another 20,000 are awaiting adjudication. However, these numbers represent only a fraction of the individuals who are eligible for TPS benefits. It is estimated that there may be an additional 15,000-45,000 people in the U.S. who may still apply.
“Since the earthquake, USCIS has maintained an ongoing dialogue with Haitian community leaders and advocates, and we have heard that many Haitians need more time to apply for TPS,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “Extending the registration period will afford more eligible individuals a chance to remain safely in the United States at this time of crisis and devastation in Haiti.”
There are many reasons that eligible individuals may not have filed their TPS applications yet. Many have had a hard time gathering the necessary documentation; others needed more time to acquire the funds to cover the $470 application fee or to learn how to apply to have the fee waived. Some Haitians have expressed concern that they will be deported during the application process. The extension announced this week will give thousands more individuals the opportunity to apply for benefits enabling them to remain in the United States for 18 months and to work legally. It will also give legal service providers like CLINIC and its affiliates additional time to communicate with potential applicants about the application process.
After the announcement in Miami on Monday, Director Mayorkas met with Archbishop Thomas Wenski, a member of CLINIC’s Board of Directors and a supporter of Haitians in the Archbishop’s Miami office. Randy McGrorty, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities Legal Services of Miami, also participated in the meeting. Many topics were discussed, including ways that the agency can help the 55,000 individuals in Haiti who have approved family petitions, but are waiting for a priority date to enter the U.S.
We find hope in the extension of the TPS deadline and applaud the work of those who assisted in this success.
In one week, CLINIC’s Executive Director, Maria Odom, will be part of a delegation from USCCB/MRS to monitor the situation in Haiti. Maria will spend a week in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and will be meeting with USCIS, the State Department, and Haitian government officials to discuss the ongoing efforts on the ground and the access Haitians have to agencies processing humanitarian parole and immigrant visas, with a particular focus on family reunification. She will be visiting refugee camps, orphanages, and the Haitian/Dominican border to understand the types of resources that are available to Haitians. While there, Maria hopes to gain a greater understanding of the hardship Haitians face, particularly in regards to attempted immigration and family reunification, and “to remind Haitians that the church in the U.S. is still supporting them and advocating on their behalf.”
Look for an update from Maria’s trip including pictures in a future blog.
*Christie Valentine works with CLINIC's Center for Immigrant Rights
**Allison Posner is the Director of CLINIC’s Center for Immigrant Rights
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