The Representative of Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, Ted Deutch lambasted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s six-month Temporary Protected Status (TPS ) extension for Haitian nationals in an Op-Ed published by the Miami Herald. Deutch urged Secretary John Kelly to reconsider his decision, which he wrote, “should be based on humanitarian considerations — not arbitrary deadlines.” The congressman added that the DHS’s decision has done nothing than creating fear and unsease amongst Haitian TPS-holders. “This [decision] leaves Haitian TPS-holders living in uncertainty about whether they will be separated from their families and communities,” Deutch wrote referring to the DHS’s disappointing decision. Seven years after a 7.0 earthquake flattened Haiti’s capital, thousands of people continue to call makeshift tents and shelters their homes, and the cholera outbreak introduced by the United Nations peacekeeping soldiers has not been put under control after killing thousands of people and sickening thousands more. Haiti clearly is not ready to welcome thousands of its citizens who are currently residing in the United States.
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Click HERE to read the full op-ed.
Op-Ed: Six-Month Extension for Haitian TPS Is not Enough
By U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch & Mark Fetfield, Miami Herald
May 25, 2017
A decision to end TPS for Haitians would have abruptly ended legal status for more than 50,000 Haitians who are working in this country and contributing to American communities. It would have cut off a lifeline of private support sent in the form of remittances, which is particularly important for Haiti, where money from family members living abroad accounts for 25 percent of the country’s GDP. Most dramatically, it would have caused tens of thousands of people to face deportation back to a country still recovering from numerous crises. This will remain true six months from now.
The DHS announcement this week stated that Kelly expects Haitian TPS-holders to use the next six months to “prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States,” with the implication that TPS will not continue for this population after January 22, 2018. This leaves Haitian TPS-holders living in uncertainty about whether they will be separated from their families and communities.
This is not how the United States should conduct humanitarian policy.
A form of humanitarian relief, TPS is a temporary immigration status the U.S. government can grant to foreign nationals in the United States who are unable to return safely to their home countries. This could be because of a natural disaster, such as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal; disease, as we saw with the Ebola outbreak in East Africa; or violence, like the civil war in Yemen. Extending TPS to people who can’t safely return home — and providing safe haven to them here in the United States — is one of the hallmarks of America’s humanitarian values.
During these same seven years, Haiti’s recovery has been undermined by drought, prolonged economic instability, public health crises, and natural disasters. Today, 1.65 million people in Haiti are at risk of cholera infection. The United Nations has been struggling to address the country’s humanitarian needs with incredibly limited funding. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew killed hundreds and affected the daily lives of almost 20 percent of the country’s population. The storm brought flooding and widespread destruction, and wiped out entire sectors of the agriculture, fishing and livestock industries. Recovery is ongoing and fragile, and we have no reason to believe that will fundamentally change in the foreseeable future. Threatening to send people back to a country so plagued with disaster and crisis would set a dangerous precedent.
In the coming months, TPS is also set to expire for over 186,000 Salvadorans and over 70,000 Hondurans. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center estimates that ending TPS for Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras would lead to a $45.2 billion reduction in United States’ GDP over a decade. Deporting TPS-holders from these three countries would cost U.S. taxpayers $3.1 billion.
In the past few weeks, faith leaders, physicians,humanitarian organizations, unions, members of Congress, mayors, governors, and the ambassador of Haiti to the U.S. all urged Kelly to continue TPS for Haiti. We are acutely aware of the stakes. Haiti is in no position to reintegrate tens of thousands of Haitian TPS-holders, and we are glad that DHS made the right decision in the short term.
Now, Kelly must demonstrate that the U.S. government develops policies based on humanitarian considerations — not arbitrary deadlines. In the meantime, we will continue to support policies that promote human rights, protect those who seek safety, and ensure that the United States does not send people back in harm’s way.
Click HERE to read the full op-ed.
U.S. REP. TED DEUTCH REPRESENTS FLORIDA’S 22ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. MARK HETFIELD IS PRESIDENT AND CEO OF HIAS, THE GLOBAL JEWISH NONPROFIT THAT PROTECTS REFUGEES.
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch