By ALFONSO CHARDY, Miami Herald
Federal immigration authorities have been asked to extend the deadline for undocumented Haitians to apply for TPS.
The head of the Homeland Security office in charge of processing applications for Haitian temporary protected status said Wednesday his agency is “looking at” a possible extension of the filing period beyond the July 20 deadline.
Alejandro Mayorkas, head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, made the statement during a telephone conference call with immigration attorneys and immigrant rights activists involved with Haitian communities in the United States.
Mayorkas was responding to a request to extend the deadline by one of the activists participating in the call, Steven Forester, Miami-based representative of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.
“There will be a need for an extension,” said Forester, in addressing his request to Mayorkas.
Forester said an extension was needed because of a number of problems lawyers helping Haitians file applications have encountered, including high fees, that have prevented some from filing. Forester proposed a six-month extension.
“We could not broadcast an extension before the fact,” Mayorkas replied.
“You summarize a concern with respect to a need for an extension that we have heard in various parts of the country. We are mindful of that need and are looking at that issue at this time.”
Mayorkas said that so far his agency has received about 52,000 Haitian TPS applications, still a relatively low number compared to the 100,000 to 200,000 initially expected after the benefit was granted in the days following the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.
Mayorkas later acknowledged an error in citing such a high number that he described as an internal estimate of what his agency was prepared to handle.
“Our initial estimates were between 100,000 to 200,000,” said Mayorkas. “I think we made a mistake in sharing publicly what we viewed as numbers for which we should be operationally prepared.”
He said a more realistic estimate was between 70,000 and 100,000.
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