The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) permitted a limited number of Haitians to come to the United States for humanitarian reasons in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. President Obama also made Temporary Protected Status (TPS) available to assist Haitians who were in the U.S. on the day of the earthquake to allow them to live and work here legally until the situation at home improves. These measures were a good start but did not go far enough to fully meet the needs of the Haitian community. For example, the fees for the applications for TPS and work authorization total over $500. Many individuals had difficulty paying these fees for themselves and their families, especially while trying to send money to relatives in Haiti. When they could gather the fees and file their applications, many submitted the complicated documents without the assistance of a legal professional who understood the forms and the consequences of filing them with errors.
On behalf of its network, CLINIC’s Executive Director and Director of Advocacy urged the Secretaries of State, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security to revisit their policies. CLINIC advocated for relief not just for Haitians already in the U.S., but also for the loved ones they left behind. As CLINIC pushed forth administrative advocacy efforts, its network of community-based legal immigration service providers helped those filing for TPS for the first time, as well as those whose applications rejected or denied because of error or ineffective assistance.
- More than half a million Haitians live in the U.S., a fifth of whom likely do so without legal status
- Haitians have a higher rate of naturalization than all other immigrant groups
- More than 50,000 Haitians had applied for TPS as of June 2010
- Haitians are represented in many fields of employment in the U.S., with more than 25 percent of employed Haitian women working in the healthcare field