Short TPS extension for Haitians just continues unsettled situation | CLINIC

Short TPS extension for Haitians just continues unsettled situation

May 22, 2017

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – The decision to extend for six months the Temporary Protected Status that has enabled certain Haitians to remain in the United States, leaves TPS holders worried that they will be sent home to an unstable country a few more months down the road, according to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
 
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced May 22 that the designation of TPS for Haitians would be continued through Jan. 22, 2018. It was to expire July 22, 2017.
 
“The extension of TPS for another six months is nothing more than a brief respite,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of CLINIC. “Kelly’s statement making this announcement suggests he doesn’t truly understand the purpose of TPS and its basis in what the conditions are in an affected country. His remarks ignore that it would be inhumane to precipitously force tens of thousands of people back to a country that still suffers from dramatic levels of homelessness, an ongoing cholera epidemic and other systemic deficits, such as a lack of clean water. An adequate national recovery to support their return is far more than six months down the horizon.”
 
Approximately 50,000 Haitians have been allowed to remain in this country under TPS as a result of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake (magnitude 7.0) that killed more than 200,000 people and devastated the impoverished island. They are allowed to work and the remittances they send home are a significant source of support for their families in Haiti. In addition to the earthquake, Haiti has struggled with a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 9,500 people and sickened more than 900,000. And in October 2016, Hurricane Matthew left behind a new trail of death and destruction, and worsened the cholera outbreak.
 
“The DHS announcement today emphasized that the extra time will enable TPS recipients to obtain travel documents to return home, as if that was the only significant barrier to resuming a productive, safe life in Haiti,” Atkinson said. “Kelly failed to address the ongoing cholera epidemic, the hurricane or the Haitian government’s request to extend TPS for 18 months.”
 
“We hope Kelly and his staff spend these extra six months listening to the experts on the ground in Haiti, who will explain that reconstruction from events this devastating cannot be accomplished by sheer force of insisting that because camps for the displaced have closed, the country must be recovered,” said Jill Bussey, CLINIC advocacy director. He also needs to consult with experts who can help ensure that the decisions about TPS are grounded in an understanding of the applicable legal standards and don’t politicize a humanitarian crisis.
 
CLINIC and its allies among faith-based organizations will continue to advocate for a longer extension of TPS for Haitians, until real recovery has been accomplished.
 
“Although Kelly’s statement said the decision was reached after ‘careful review,’ this announcement and the way the decision was reached epitomize complete disorder,” said Bussey. “Haitian TPS holders have been in a state of panic as bits of information from the administration have circulated. TPS is a humanitarian program to be designated according to hard facts about the conditions on the ground in a country. This decision bears little evidence of that.”