FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Steven Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator,Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, firstname.lastname@example.org, + (786)-877-6999
Brian Concannon Jr Executive Director, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti email@example.com , +(617) 652-0876
Experts Call State Department’s Haiti TPS Assessment Divorced From Reality
(Boston, November 6,2017) — Experts on Haiti from the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti today called a reported rosy assessment of conditions in Haiti from Secretary of State Tillerson at odds with the facts on the ground. The Washington Post reported Friday that Sec. Tillerson sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stating that conditions in Haiti and Central America no longer warrant Temporary Protected Status (TPS). DHS must announce its decision on TPS renewal for Haiti by November 23.
“The fact that Haiti still suffers from recent extraordinary and temporary conditions warranting an 18-month extension of TPS is well-documented, by academia, media, and even the Haitian government,” said IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon. “Secretary Tillerson’s State Department will not even let its employees travel to large swaths of the country. Ignoring this evidence is politics, not fact-finding.”
Haiti is a textbook case for an 18-month extension. Hurricane Matthew in October 2016–the worst hurricane to hit Haiti in 52 years–caused $2.8 billion in damages (22% of Haiti’s GDP). The still-unchecked cholera epidemic introduced by UN troops in October 2010 has killed 10,000 and sickened over 800,000; and recovery from the 2010 earthquake is incomplete, with 40,000 still in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and 200,000 more in a camp, Canaan, simply renamed a “settlement.”
Secretary Tillerson’s State Department issued a September 12 travel warning, noting that Embassy employees cannot even travel to two departments in Haiti’s southern peninsula because of security concerns lingering from Hurricane Matthew a year ago.
While DHS is not bound by the State Department letter, it would indicate an alarming disconnect between the Administration’s assessment and the reality on the ground in Haiti. Haiti’s statutory qualification for an 18-month TPS extension due to extraordinary conditions was documented in recent thorough analyses: “Protecting families, stabilizing the region: Why Temporary Protected Status is needed for Haiti“, a 30-page CLINIC report and press release, November 2; and “Extraordinary Conditions: A Statutory Analysis of Haiti’s Qualification for TPS,” Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law, October 26, 2017 (37-pages), press release. At least 100 bipartisan members of Congress, the Republican Governors of Florida and Massachusetts, 15 big city mayors, 416 faith leaders, 550 U.S. physicians, eight major editorial boards in at least 15 editorials, and many others have urged a generous Haiti TPS extension. Recently the eight U.S. Senators from Florida, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey urged an 18-month extension, joining the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Haiti’s government, the Philadelphia City Council, county commissions, all 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and many others in doing so.
“Deportations now would be unsafe, seriously destabilizing, and tragic for the 50,000 Haitian TPS-holders, their 27,000 US-born children, and 300,000 relatives who rely on their remittances,” said IJDH Immigration Policy Coordinator Steve Forester. “A contrary conclusion ignores clear facts and truth and would seem driven by an ideological agenda, contrary to the national security interests of either nation.”
“If DHS were to end TPS for Haiti, President Trump would contradict his own assessment of Haiti conditions made in late September 2016, when just days before Hurricane Matthew struck, he lamented the extent of earthquake devastation and promised to be the Haitian-American community’s ‘greatest champion.’ A few days later, Hurricane Matthew struck,” Forester added.
“The State Department letter should galvanize all to action: contact your elected representatives to urge them to show the President and Secretaries Tillerson and Duke (DHS) why Haiti TPS must be extended for 18 months to protect Haiti’s fragile recovery and hundreds of thousands of Haitians.”
Ending TPS would also be costly for the United States: a study by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center shows that rescinding TPS for the three countries would result in a $45.2 billion reduction in GDP over the next decade. And in its October 26 letter, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged DHS Acting Secretary Duke to extend TPS for Haitians and Central Americans for detailed reasons affecting the U.S. economy.