SILVER SPRING, Maryland – CLINIC is deeply disturbed by reports that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has recommended that Temporary Protected Status for Haiti be discontinued.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly should reject the recommendation and renew the status, which allows Haitians who were in the United States prior to a series of devastating events to remain in the country until their homeland has recovered from the disasters.
The recommendation from USCIS suggests that enough progress has been made in addressing the dire humanitarian crises in Haiti that it would be safe for Haitian TPS holders in the U.S. to return home.
Haiti was struck by a series of cataclysmic events:
- a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 that displaced 1.5 million people and leveled 300,000 buildings in Haiti’s capital city;
- the worst cholera epidemic in recent history, which was brought in by U.N. aid workers and has killed nearly 10,000 people and sickened 100,000 more to date;
- Category 4 Hurricane Matthew, which struck only six months ago and has left 1.25 million people without access to safe drinking water and more than 800,000 in need of emergency food assistance.
“Failing to extend TPS until Haiti has had sufficient time to recover from this truly unprecedented string of catastrophic events is an affront to American and Catholic values,” said Jeanne Atkinson, CLINIC’s executive director. “Forcing the approximately 50,000 Haitian TPS holders who are peacefully living and working in the U.S. to return to a country ravaged by disease and water and food insecurity as a direct result of multiple natural disasters would be a cruel and unconscionable act.”
“TPS holders are working hard and saving as much money as possible to send home to loved ones suffering in Haiti,” Atkinson added. “Failing to extend TPS at this juncture would not only endanger the lives of Haitian TPS holders, it would create a ripple effect in Haiti and further destabilize the country. This will undoubtedly result in an upswing in the number of Haitians who seek asylum in the U.S., adding a strain to our system. Extending TPS is not only the compassionate and just choice, it’s the pragmatic choice for American interests.”
Earlier this week, CLINIC joined Catholic partners in a letter, urging Kelly to honor the country’s “moral responsibility” and extend Haitian TPS before the May 23, 2017 deadline to act. The letter makes clear, “The Catholic Church stands ready to support measures to protect the well-being and dignity of Haitian families during Haiti’s path to recovery.”
See our backgrounder: Temporary Protected Status for Haiti