The Trump administration announced on Monday (May 22) that they will extend the Temporary Protected Status program for Haitian immigrants until January. The initiative allowed nearly 58,000 Haitians to live in the United States, according to NBC News.
The TPS was originally granted by the Obama administration in 2010 following Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake that killed approximately 220,000 people and displaced 1.5 million. Reportedly, the 18-month program has been extended three times before this latest add-on. Now, senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security are strongly urging TPS members to resolve their affairs and get proper travel documentation.
“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,” John Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary, said in a statement.
Kelly said their decision stems from the research done on Haiti’s current socio-physical state since the natural disaster, which proves it has (somewhat) improved. “The Haitian economy continues to recover and grow, and 96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps,” Kelly said in a statement.
Omarosa Manigault, an assistant to the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison and the president, says her and POTUS have discussed the program after she went to Haiti in February. Manigault said that Trump, “made a commitment to Haiti and Haitians in the diaspora as well that he was really going to work with them, and for them, and he made a commitment. And this is him making his promise.”
Still, the Haitian-American community and law officials have tried to persistently coax POTUS to leave the Haitian TPS program in place. The Executive Director of Haitian Women of Miami, Marleine Bastien, stated that the research the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials have found on the island is false. Bastien notes that those findings of Haiti’s improvement go against the data that was present back in December when Barack Obama was still in office.
“They are trying to play with words, claiming they are extending it for six months,” Bastien said. “If it’s only six months, it is clear that their decision is to terminate it, which would be a disaster.”