The current six-month grant of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for approximately 50,000 Haitians will expire on Jan. 22, 2018 unless extended by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. By law, the secretary must decide by Nov. 23, 2017 whether conditions warrant extending TPS.
What is TPS?
Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, was established by Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990. TPS is intended to protect foreign nationals in the U.S. from being returned to their home country if it became unsafe during the time they were in the U.S. and would put them at risk of violence, disease or death. Under the law, the secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS in three scenarios:
- Ongoing armed conflict (such as a civil war)
- An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic; or
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent people from the country from safely returning home. 
The country’s designation can last from six months, at a minimum, to a maximum of 18 months. Sixty days prior to the end of an initial designation or re-designation period, the secretary must review the conditions of the foreign country to determine if the unsafe conditions continue to exist. If conditions continue, the secretary may designate TPS for another six-, 12- or 18-month period. This may be repeated indefinitely.
Nationals of a TPS-designated country and people without nationality who last resided in a TPS-designated country, who were physically present in the U.S. when the designation was made and meet certain requirements may be eligible for TPS. If granted, such applicants are protected from deportation and receive work authorization to support themselves while they remain in the U.S. TPS does not provide a direct path to lawful permanent resident status or citizenship.
Why was Haiti designated for TPS?
Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. It was the most violent earthquake in the country in 200 years. Much of the capital city of Port-au-Prince was destroyed. One and a half million people were displaced. Within days, DHS granted TPS to eligible Haitians who had been in the U.S. on or before the date of the earthquake. In 2011, eligibility was extended to people who came to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons in the year following the earthquake.
Haitian TPS has continued to be renewed for 18-month increments since the initial designation period (with the exception of the most recent six-month extension), as the country remains unstable and unsafe. In addition to the devastating earthquake of 2010, the country has been struck by two additional catastrophes: a cholera epidemic inadvertently introduced by UN peacekeepers in October 2010 and Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 hurricane which hit in October 2016 and affected 2 million Haitians.
Why should TPS for Haiti be extended?
Haiti remains unstable and unsafe as a result of the lingering effects of three separate crises over the past seven years:
- The 2010 earthquake: The earthquake cost Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, 120% of its GDP. 300,000 buildings were destroyed in the capital city. Seven years later, 60,000 survivors remain homeless and are living in camps.
- Cholera epidemic: In October 2010, unsanitary practices by UN peacekeepers led to a cholera epidemic which has killed at least 9,500 and sickened 900,000 people. The disease leads to severe dehydration, blood sugar shock, and organ failure. Cholera can kill in a matter of hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called it the “worst [cholera outbreak] in recent history.” The UN has only raised $2 million of the $400 million estimated need to begin addressing the crisis it inadvertently caused. Thousands of people continue to be sickened every year.
- Hurricane Matthew: Haiti was devastated by Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 4, 2016, the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the Caribbean island nation in 52 years. Matthew affected more than 2 million Haitians, claiming 1,000 lives. At least 1.4 million people were left in immediate need of emergency aid—including 800,000 children. 800,000 people were left without food or “food insecure," and 1,250,000 Haitians—including a half million children—are without safe water. The storm surge, flooding, and winds wiped out livestock and crops, damaged or destroyed at least 716 schools, interrupted the education of an estimated 490,000 children, and further spread the cholera epidemic. According to a March 2017 UN Report, the hurricane cost Haiti $2.7 billion, or 32 percent of its GDP.
What is the impact of TPS for Haitians on U.S. society and its economy?
- TPS provides work authorization for Haitians who are contributing to the U.S. labor market and economy. Overall, labor force participation of Haitian immigrants is more than 81 percent. Haitian TPS-holders make substantial contributions in food service, education, construction, and health care sectors, among others.
- Each year, Haitian TPS holders contribute nearly $280 million to the gross domestic product. Over the course of 10 years, those contributions add up to nearly $2.8 billion in GDP.
- Ending TPS for Haitians without a transition plan would reduce Social Security and Medicare contributions by $42 million per year and create nearly $60 million in employee turnover costs.
What will the impact be if TPS for Haitians is not extended?
Ending TPS for Haitians living in the U.S. and forcing them to return to Haiti would put them at risk of hunger, disease, and death. It would further weaken and destabilize Haiti’s economy, and harm U.S. citizen children.
Remittances are crucial to Haiti’s economy and people. In 2015, remittances to Haiti from the U.S. exceeded $1.3 billion—or about 15 percent of Haiti’s GDP. Haiti’s new government, established in late February 2017 after years of turmoil and unrest, is saddled with major problems and only has a $2 billion dollar operating budget.
Due to cholera and food, water and housing insecurity in Haiti, Haitian TPS-holder parents (if forced to return to Haiti) would face the excruciating decision of whether or not to bring their U.S. citizen children with them. In all likelihood, many parents would choose not to put their children in harm’s way, ripping families apart and scarring a generation of Haitian Americans.
Why is TPS for Haiti in line with our shared values?
The U.S. has a long history of providing relief to victims of catastrophic events and natural disasters. TPS reflects our country’s values by protecting people from unsafe conditions outside of their control.
Americans hold themselves to high standards when it comes to the humane treatment of people. U.S. immigration law, including TPS, reflects respect for the lives of people who, without protection, would be returned to hazardous, if not deadly, circumstances.
Our faith and values demand that the U.S. extend TPS to protect the lives and dignity of Haitian TPS recipients in the U.S. We must welcome, share with, and stand in solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters in need. Continued TPS for Haiti satisfies our moral and international obligations until greater progress is made to ensure innocent people are not too soon returned to dangerous conditions.
TPS embodies core tenets of Catholic social teaching on immigration. People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families and a country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy.
 Extension of the Designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, 82 Fed. Reg. 23830 (May 24, 2017)
 8 U.S.C. §1254a
 USCIS information about Temporary Protected Status, available at www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status
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 See Designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, 75 Fed. Reg. 3476 (Jan. 21, 2010).
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