To: Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly
Extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitians Impacted by 2010 Haiti Earthquake
Please extend Temporary Protected Status to qualifying Haitian citizens who were displaced or drastically impacted by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Why is this important?
Haitians across the United States are in a collective state of anxiety, worried that they will soon lose protection from detainment and deportation. In 2010, the Obama administration granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to close to 50,000 Haitians after the earthquake disaster that killed 300,000 people and displaced approximately 1.5 million.
Created in 1990, TPS is a federal immigration relief program granted to citizens of certain countries with deteriorating conditions caused by armed conflicts, natural disasters, or health epidemics. The program grants residency, work permits, and driver's licenses to refugees who had started living in the U.S. before or within a year after the earthquake. For the past seven years, the United States has renewed the TPS program for Haitian citizens in 18-month installments. Under the Trump administration, however, that temporary protected status is set to expire on January 22, 2018.
“Haiti still hasn’t fully recovered from the earthquake. There are still people living in tents. People are living in caves. They’re dying of malnutrition.”
-- Steve Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
In addition to recovering from the earthquake aftermath, people in Haiti are fighting a cholera epidemic that was brought into the island by a United Nations peacekeeping mission in 2010. Hurricane Matthew hit seven months ago, exacerbating the cholera crisis and severely damaging infrastructure projects as well as Haiti’s agricultural sector. This resulted in a food crisis that has some Haitians living outdoors and suffering from hunger. To date, about 9,000 people have died from cholera since the epidemic began and 780,000 others have been affected by the disease, according to the United Nations.
It would be irresponsible for the United States to send tens of thousands of people back to a recovering country where they haven’t lived or worked for years. Many of these families have U.S.-born children, making deportation both cruel and extremely disruptive. If the United States government wants Haitian refugees to return to their homeland, it should focus immigration policies on helping Haiti to recover instead of forcing people back to a country unable to support them.
Ending temporary protected status for 50,000 Haitian citizens would have disastrous effects in many ways. Internationally, it would create the potential for a new immigration crisis. In the United States, it would fuel the engine of the prison-industrial complex by immediately criminalizing many thousands of Haitian citizens throughout the country after January 22, 2018, making it illegal for them to work, drive, keep housing, or continue to live in the United States at all.
Please sign this petition to ask Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to extend Temporary Protected Status to qualifying Haitian citizens who were displaced or drastically impacted by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.