Haiti has asked the Trump administration to extend temporary protected status for thousands of Haitians living in the U.S., seven years after an earthquake destroyed much of the country in one of the worst natural disasters this century.
At the direction of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the country’s embassy in Washington delivered the request to the Department of Homeland Security on Friday, reports McClatchy.
Haitian government officials say the island has still not fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake that killed at least 220,000 people and left another 1.5 million homeless. A pair of recent hurricanes, along with continued civil unrest, have reduced Haiti’s capacity to absorb the approximately 60,000 Haitian nationals living in the U.S. under temporary status.
“A visit to Haiti would offer you insight on the challenges that we continue to face,” Haitian Ambassador to the U.S. Paul Altidor wrote to Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke.
“The detrimental impacts of the recent hurricanes have complicated our ability to recover from the 2010 earthquake … resulting in major disruptions of living conditions in the short term,” he added.
A TPS designation grants a temporary immigration benefit to certain nationals of designated countries, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. for a limited time period. TPS is typically granted to citizens of developing countries countries affected by natural disasters, such as Haiti in 2010, or armed conflict, such as Yemen in 2015.
Then-DHS Secretary John Kelly approved in May a six-month extension of TPS for the Haitian refugees, the fifth such extension since the original designation following the earthquake. At the time, Kelly encouraged Haitians living in the U.S. without another immigration status other than TPS to “prepare for and arrange their departure” before the revised expiration on Jan. 22, 2018.
“This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients,” he said in a statement announcing the extension.
The Haitian government now says it is not able to handle the re-repatriation of its citizens, largely because of damage and flooding caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Altidor had discussions last month with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about pushing for an 18-month extension of TPS.
DHS is expected to make a decison on TPS for Hatians in November.
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