President Barack Obama is six months into his presidency and a Haitian advocacy organization cannot help but wonder where is the Temporary Protected Status for desperate Haitians?
Steven Forester, of Stop Deportations Now and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, says 28,000 Haitians with final orders of removal urgently need TPS, which is granted to eligible nationals of designated countries who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
Forester argues that when Hurricane Mitch struck Nicaragua and Honduras and earthquakes hit El Salvador, their nationals got TPS, so why not Haitians.
Haiti had to cope with four storms or hurricanes in one month last year that wiped out 15 percent of Haiti`s GDP, said Forester and caused widespread flooding of major cities and death and $1 billion in damages.
Haitians need work permits now, added the head of the Institute in Haiti. `TPS would enable them to work and send remittances to an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people in Haiti,` he said.
So far several lawmakers, including NY Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristin Gilliibrand; House Ways and Means Chair Charles Rangel and House Western Hemisphere subcommittee Chair, Eliot Engel, have all written President Obama urging him to grant Haitians TPS.
While the editorial boards of the New York Times, twice in the last year, the Washington Post, The Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald and Newsday among others have recently editorialized for TPS.
The South Florida congressional delegation also supports TPS with Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart as well as Reps. Alcee Hastings and Kendrick Meek urging for TPS through a bi-partisan supported bill.
But while the White House has heard from several sides on the issue, it has yet to budge, even though it`s so far halted deportation for those affected. For now, the Haitian nationals in desperate need of some form of immigration relief remain in limbo.