On November 21, 2017 the acting Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitians with a delayed effective date of July 22, 2019. Currently, an estimated 58,000 Haitians are living in the United States with TPS, a special immigration status that is meant to be temporary in nature and given to nationals of countries where the US feels that it would be inhumane to send them back due to natural disasters or civil unrest. Haitians were granted TPS in 2010 after the devastating earthquake that killed over 200,000 people.
According to Secretary Duke’s announcement, DHS reviewed the conditions upon which Haiti’s original designation was based and found that those extraordinary circumstances caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. In May of 2017, then- Secretary Kelly announced that he believed Haiti no longer warranted an extension for TPS and gave Haitian nationals until January of 2018 to make arrangements to go back to Haiti or face deportation. Current Secretary Duke believes that an 18-month delay with allow an orderly transition. She promised to keep working with the Haitian government to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition.
Haitian nationals who already have TPS and wish to maintain their TPS status and receive work authorization must re-register for TPS. The re-designation period runs from January 18, 2018 through March 19, 2018. If you are a Haitian national, you must register or you will lose your TPS status. Some may have pending green card application through a family member. Even if that is the case, the TPS status should still be renewed.
TPS is designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent nationals of that country from returning safely or where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals. Nationals should already be in the United States. The Secretary may designate a country for TPS that has ongoing armed conflict like a civil war, due to an environmental disaster like an earthquake or hurricane, or other extraordinary temporary conditions.
There are currently more than 300,000 people with TPS in the United States. Some have resided in the U.S. for 19 years! They contribute to the economy. They pay taxes. They raise American families with over 100,000 U.S born children. TPS holders are vetted every year. They have no criminal records. The ASPIRE Act, was introduced to Congress by representatives including Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, “would allow every person covered by TPS on Jan. 1, 2017, to apply for permanent residency before a judge by proving that they would face extreme hardship if they were forced to return to their home country.” If it passes, it will allow every person covered by TPS on Jan. 1, 2017, to apply for permanent resident before a judge by proving that they would face extreme hardship if they were forced to return to their home country.
Advocates would argue that it makes both logical and economic sense to renew TPS for TPS holders up until legislation passes that would offer a long-term status to these individuals because it will cost tax payers more money to deport these low priority immigrants than it would to legalize them.