Save TPS: Haitian Activists and Immigration Lawyers Say the Fight Goes on

Haitian Americans and Immigration lawyers vow to continue to fight to save Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals. The DHS-six-month TPS extension has done nothing than to terrify Haitian TPS-holders. They are worried about what is going to happen to them and their family after Jan. 22, 2018. They are living under fear. Fear of being deported to a land that is unsafe and unsuitable for them and their families. Marleine Bastien, the director of Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami (Haitian Women of Miami) gave them hope. At a town hall meeting attended by IJDH’s Immigration Policy Coordinator Steve Forester in Little Haiti–Miami, FL, Bastien encouraged his fellow Haitians to be hopeful. She reminds them that Haitians have fought for every little gain since they arrived in this country. She told them that the fight for TPS is not over.  “Since we’ve been here in the ’70s, early ’80s, every little gain, policy-wise, has been a long-term fight. Nothing has been offered to us on a silver platter,” Bastien said.

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Immigration activists and lawyers offer Haitians hope, vowing TPS fight is not over

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

June 2, 2017

Haitian and immigration advocates hold a rally asking the Trump administration extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in front of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Miami on Saturday, May 13, 2017. Al Diaz ALDIAZ
For 29 years, Evette Prosper has called the United States home. It’s where she attended school, got married and gave birth to two children, now 8 and 7.

An only child, Prosper doesn’t know where her father is. And both her Haitian mother, and her grandmother – who migrated with her from Haiti when she was just a year old – are dead.

But her husband of 11 years is a U.S. citizen. That should place her squarely in the category of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, holders that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security referred to when, announcing a six-month TPS extension last week for Haitians, it said many of the 58,700 recipients could adjust their status to remain and work legally in the United States on a permanent basis.

But Prosper, who was born in the Bahamas, which doesn’t automatically grant citizenship, has neither a Bahamian nor a Haitian passport. And with no proof that she ever entered the U.S., adjusting her immigration status is almost impossible unless she can leave and reenter the country. She is, as one immigration lawyer put it, stateless. Her case exemplifies the challenges some TPS recipients face as they seek to move from temporary to permanent U.S. residency.

“It’s very overwhelming on your future,” Prosper, 30, said. “You don’t know if you should seek future plans. I’ve never been to jail, never been in a cop’s car before. It’s kind of scary not knowing what the future holds.”

On Thursday, Prosper was among dozens of Haitians who poured into the Little Haiti Cultural Complex in Miami hoping to find answers from a panel of immigration lawyers. The town hall-style discussion, one of several that will be offered in coming months, was organized by Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami and other immigration rights groups.

Prosper, like many others, is fearful of possible deportation and what that could do to her family, especially after DHS advised Haitian TPS recipients to get their affairs in order.

“What will they do with people who have kids?” she asked the lawyers at the meeting.

“That’s a very good question,” said Adonia Simpson, supervising attorney for Americans for Immigrant Justice’s Children’s Legal Programs, which represents unaccompanied immigrant children.

“You need to think hard about potentially what you want to happen to your children,” Simpson advised. “Make sure your children have passports, documents.”

Sensing the panic among some in the room, Catholic Charities Legal Services attorney Georges Francis said: “Don’t freak out. Be calm.”

“TPS has not ended yet,” Francis said. “It’s been extended for six months.”

Last week, after months of advocacy, letters and protests, DHS Secretary John Kelly announced that the immigration benefit, provided by the Obama administration to Haiti in the days after its devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, would be extended an additional six months. Instead of expiring on July 22, TPS for Haiti will now expire on Jan. 22.

Read the full article HERE.