The Trump administration has terminated the humanitarian program that enabled nearly 60,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States following an earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, killing thousands, displacing more than a million, and sparking an ongoing outbreak of cholera. An announcement made by Homeland Security officials Monday set an expiration date of July 2019 to allow for the affected to make arrangements to leave.

The Temporary Protected Status program, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, allows foreign nationals from countries affected by natural disaster or armed conflict to remain in the U.S. and apply for work permits. Periodically, the government reviews each group and decides whether to maintain their status. The Obama administration renewed protections for Haitians several times, citing poor conditions at home—as Politico reports, roughly 40,000 people who lost their homes in the earthquake still live in camps.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, facing a Thanksgiving deadline to renew the T.P.S. status for Haitians, decided against it. After consulting U.S. and Haitian officials (who asked the Trump administration to extend the protected status), Duke declared that the on-the-ground conditions in Haiti no longer warranted the protection granted under the program. Monday’s judgement was based on determinations that the “extraordinary conditions” for justifying their presence in the United States “no longer exist.”

“Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent,” a statement from the Department of Homeland Security said. “Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly stated that the program is meant to be temporary, not a route to permanent residency in the U.S. Back in May, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly granted Haitians a six-month T.P.S. extension, shorter than is standard, and suggested that they “need to start thinking about returning.” Consequently, thousands crossed the border into Canada, hoping to receive asylum in Quebec.

Monday’s decision sent dismay through the remaining Haitian communities in the U.S., who are primarily based in Florida. Those who have found jobs face the prospect of scouring for work in a country with high unemployment rates. For those who had children while living in the U.S., the options are even more bleak: they can leave their children (born U.S. citizens) with a guardian, take them back to the unfamiliar Haiti, or remain with them illegally in the U.S., constantly evading deportation. The effects will be felt sharply back in Haiti, too. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, its struggle to rebuild relies heavily on money sent home from the U.S. As the Times notes, remittances from the Haitian diaspora totaled $2.36 billion in 2016.

Read the entire article here: 


Posted in