By Shazia Khan, NY 1
Haitian nationals living in Brooklyn and across the United States are filing for temporary protected status, after President Barack Obama granted the immigration status days after a massive earthquake rocked Haiti in January. NY1’s Shazia Khan filed the following report.
Haitian immigrant Ernest Admon has signed a form that could change his life. Admon has been living illegally in Brooklyn since 1985, and if his application for temporary protected status is accepted, he may finally have a sense of belonging.
“It’s a pleasure for me to have a TPS in my hand, because after 25 years in this country, I never got a paper,” says Admon.
The TPS paper will grant Admon legal immigrant status until next summer, allowing him to work and travel on the books and qualify for Medicaid. President Barack Obama granted the special status to Haitians in response to the devastating earthquake on January 12, but only to those who already were in the united states.
National estimates of eligible Haitian immigrants vary widely. Early on, officials put it around 200,000, but now say it is around 100,000. Like Admon, a majority have delayed applying.
Officials say they have only received 7,000 applications from Haitians living in New York City, which is home to more Haitians than anywhere else in the country.
Wanda Rene, an attorney with the not-for-profit New York Legal Assistance Group, hosts free TPS help clinics at the Bedford Armory.
“I think that people are little bit hesitant, mostly because they [think], ‘Immigration doesn’t know where I am now, so if I do a
TPS application, I’m kind of putting myself on the map and now they’ll know where I am. And what does that mean for me at the end of my TPS period?'” says Rene.
The Legal Aid Society has been providing free assistance with TPS applications at City Councilman Mathieu Eugene’s Brooklyn office.
The opportunity to apply runs out in mid-July.
“The reason we are pushing people to participate in this program, it is better to have a certain status in the United States than not having anything,” says Eugene.
As the July 20 deadline draws near, there is a sentiment more Haitians will rush to file TPS.
As for Admon, he hopes his application is approved, so he can finally visit his family in Haiti without worrying about whether he can return to Brooklyn.
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