THE HAITIAN CONGRESS FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT URGES THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO STOP THE DEPORTATION OF HAITIANS AND TO GRANT THEM TEMPORARY PROTECTIVE STATUS (TPS)
The Haitian Congress for Civic Engagement joins the many activist members of the Haitian community and its allies in the request that the U.S. government halt the deportation of Haitians back to Haiti and to grant Haitians facing deportation and who are qualified, Temporary Protective Status (TPS).
WHAT IS TEMPORARY PROTECTIVE STATUS (TPS)?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of certain designated countries. TPS status is given to aliens who are in the United States and who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
DO HAITIANS QUALIFY FOR TEMPORARY PROTECTIVE STATUS UNDER THE LAW
In light of the policy, no other group of nationals is more deserving of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) than Haitian Nationals. Very few groups have more clearly stated the well known facts on the grounds in Haiti than the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) which states that:
Haiti was struck by four hurricanes and tropical storms in August through September 2008: Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike. The entire country has suffered: 800 were reported dead, 600,000 houses were damaged and more than 3 million persons were affected. Floods and mudslides wiped out most of the food crops and millions face the specter of acute hunger. Meanwhile, malaria and other diseases are spreading. Eight key bridges collapsed during the storms and roads were turned into lakes. The World Bank assessed storm damage at nearly one billion dollars, and Haiti’s economy contracted by 15 percent in the aftermath. This is the equivalent of eight to ten Hurricane Katrinas hitting the United States in the same month. Both the United Nations Mission and the Haitian government have been overwhelmed by the scale of the disasters, according to the United Nations’ special envoy to Haiti. The United Nations called it “the worst disaster to hit Haiti in 100 years.”
The homes of more than 300,000 people were devastated in the city of Gonaives alone. There is still no government plan to restore this historic city. Other cities have been isolated by washed-out roads and access remains difficult. (In 2004, more than 3,000 people died in Gonaives following tropical storm Jeanne).
Haiti was on the brink of famine that sparked deadly riots before the storms when an estimated 2.3 million Haitians had “fallen into food insecurity,” according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Since January 2008, prices for staple foods increased more than 40% and more again since the storms. Now, international donor support is waning, and the U.N. World Food Program may be forced to end its emergency food distributions because an emergency appeal has not raised the needed $108 million.
HAITIANS ARE OVERQUALIFIED FOR TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS (TPS):
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is the least expensive, most immediate form of humanitarian assistance the United States can provide Haiti. It allows the Haitian government to invest all of its internal resources in the rebuilding and redevelopment of its struggling economy.
TPS will enable Haitians already in the U.S. to continue sending remittances to their loved ones in Haiti, whose very survival could depend on this support. In 2006, Haitians in the U.S. sent $1.65 billion in remittances to Haiti. Haitians send more money home per capita than any other group living abroad.
TPS may be granted when:
- There is ongoing armed conflict that poses a serious threat to public safety;
- It is requested by a foreign state that cannot handle the return of its nationals due to environmental disaster; and,
- Extraordinary and temporary conditions exist which prevent foreign nationals from returning.
Haitians are over-qualified for TPS at this time and have clearly deserved TPS over the years, given the political turmoil in Haiti, the devastation caused by natural disasters and the country’s inability to effectively respond in a timely fashion. Yet, Haitians have never been granted TPS.
TPS was initially granted to 87,000 Hondurans and 600 Nicaraguans after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and to 290,000 Salvadorans after an earthquake in 2001. Their protected status was again renewed in September 2008. In extending TPS for these nationals, DHS said “those countries are still recovering from the devastating effects of natural disaster”—a decade later.
It is estimated that only about 30,000 Haitians would qualify for TPS, a significantly smaller number than for other groups already granted TPS. TPS can be granted immediately by the Administration.
There is a false misperception that TPS is not temporary. According to USCIS, TPS has been granted then terminated for: Angola, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liberia, El Salvador (early 1990’s), Montserrat, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Kosovo Province (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), Sierra Leone, Kuwait, and Burundi. All three administrations that have invoked TPS have also terminated TPS status
THE GRANT OF TPS TO HAITIANS FACING DEPORTATION IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND HAITI
Many have claimed that the grant of TPS will encourage Haitians to leave Haiti risking their lives in unsafe vessels en mass to come to the US. HANA does not share in this belief. TPS will allow thousands of Haitians to work and send remittance back to Haiti providing a significant flow of capital into the Haitian economy. Already, the remittances that Haitians send home is more than the amount of money sent to Haitians by all of the foreign donors put together. The deportation of 30,000 Haitians under the circumstances will have the effect of increasing the number of unemployed Haitians desperately seeking to eke out an existence and desperately seeking a way out. As has been historically the case, the overwhelming majority of Haitians who are here in the U.S. are law-abiding, hard working individuals who send money beck to help their fellow Haitians in Haiti. When President Clinton issued a Presidential decree granting (Deferred Enforcement of Deportation (DED) for Haitians, there was no mass exodus of Haitians from Haiti into the United States. Today, Canada has had a moratorium on Haitian deportations for some time, in recognition of Haiti’s fragile political and economic situation.
It’s time for the United States to recognize that Haitians are clearly deserving of TPS and to grant this relief immediately. To do less is inhumane.