Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Clinton should use center stage to boost Haitian TPS effort

South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial
August 8, 2009

His efforts to free two U.S. journalists from North Korea have put former President Bill Clinton in the international spotlight. While he is on center stage, Clinton could do additional good by convincing the Obama administration to finally deliver temporary protective status to a relatively small group of Haitians in America.

The Caribbean nation is close to Clinton’s heart that’s without question. The former president, in fact, is the United Nation’s special envoy to Haiti. He has traveled to Haiti twice this year, including just a month ago, to visit storm-battered areas as well as to promote investment, job creation and repair deforestation.

One can’t forget, either, that polit ical unrest in Haiti was one of Clinton’s earliest foreign policy tests during his administration, back in 1994.

So there are few “civilians” with the kind of stature Clinton possesses who can speak out on Haitian policy with as much authority and force as the 42nd president. And there is no question the lagging, fruitless effort to win TPS protection needs Clinton’s vocal backing.

There’s no credible argument against approving TPS, which is often granted after natural disasters, for Haitians in America. It is not permanent status, but simply temporary safe haven that would allow those here to work and live as normal a life as possible, as has been made possible for thousands of others from Central American nations ravaged by storms.

Granting Haitians here TPS is also in America’s best interests. Those able to work here would be in a position to send remittance money back to Haiti, helping to bring some economic relief to family and friends and easing the pressure for those to flee to America.

TPS for Haitians has widespread support. Former President Clinton could help those efforts by lending his considerable prestige and influence as well.

BOTTOM LINE: TPS is justified, needs Clinton’s vocal support.

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