By Jacqueline Charles and Trenton Daniel
MCT News Service
Haitian President Rene Preval on Friday said his storm-ravaged country will no longer be able to accept U.S. deportees and — for the first time — publicly called on the Bush administration to allow undocumented Haitians living in the United States to remain until their homeland recovers.
“Haiti will no longer be able to receive the deported individuals that the United States sends us on a regular basis,” Preval said at the closing address at the Americas Conference in Coral Gables, Fla.
“This is the occasion for the United States administration to put in place for Haitians the benefit of TPS, the Temporary Protected Status, that has already been granted to other countries in the region such as El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua,” he said.
Following Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Washington granted the Central American countries TPS, which was recently renewed.
Four storms this year have raked Haiti, leaving destruction in their wake and hundreds dead. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month temporarily halted deportations to Haiti but said it would review its decision on a day-to-day basis. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security declined to comment Friday.
The United Nations, which issued a $108 million urgent appeal on behalf of Haiti shortly after the hurricanes, has had a hard time attracting support. So far only 17 percent has been collected.
Preval encouraged Haitians living abroad to come back and contribute. “We are waiting for you,” he said.