Biden continues TPS for Haitians

Pols gear up for Caribbean Carnival
Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte in her office in Flatbush.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

The Joe Biden administration has announced the automatic extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Thursday that the designation is also for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan.

“TPS beneficiaries from these six countries will retain their status, provided they continue to meet all the individual requirements for TPS eligibility,” said DHS in a statement, stating that the automatic extension of TPS-related documentation includes Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) through Dec. 31, 2022.

“Eligible individuals, whose TPS under the Haiti designation is presently continued by court orders and this notice, are strongly encouraged to apply for Haiti TPS under the recently announced new designation,” DHS added. “This will ensure their TPS will continue if the courts end their injunctions.   In addition, DHS said eligible individuals who do not apply for the new Haiti TPS designation during the initial registration period may be prohibited from filing a late initial registration during any subsequent extension of the designation, if they do not meet certain conditions.

“This extension ensures continued compliance with various court orders issued by federal district courts in the Ramos, Bhattarai, and Saget lawsuits,” said DHS, adding that current beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan do not need to pay a fee or file any application to maintain their TPS and have their TPS-related documentation automatically extended through Dec. 31, 2022.

DHS said beneficiaries with interest in a new EAD, with the expiration date of Dec. 31, 2022, displayed on the EAD, must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

“A Federal Register notice explaining how TPS beneficiaries, their employers, and benefit-granting agencies may determine which EADs are automatically extended for those beneficiaries, will be published soon,” DHS said.

In late July, a major Haitian group in Miami welcomed an announcement by the Biden administration that it will publish in a Federal Register notice information about how to register for TPS for Haiti.

DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas previously announced an 18-month designation of Haiti for TPS on May 22.

“We applaud and commend the Biden administration’s decision to publish the Federal Register for TPS for Haiti,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Family Action Network Movement (FANM), a Haitian non-profit group dedicated to the social, economic, financial and political empowerment of low- to moderate-income families.

Bastien said the decision by the Biden administration could allow over 150,000 Haitians to remain in the United States with legal standing.

“FANM applauds this decision and stands ready to assist members with the application process,” she said, stating that “while we celebrate this encouraging news, we ask the Biden administration to release all Haitian refugees and immigrants who have been detained for months without the basic rights of due process [and] facilitate the return of all refugees/immigrants who were falsely deported under Title 42.”

Bastien said that, over the past four years, FANM and its partners have built “an extensive and sustainable campaign around TPS redesignation for Haïti and for other nations.

“We have targeted elected officials, rallied in front of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) buildings, held press conferences, provided educational resources, launched petitions/social media campaigns, but, most importantly, organized impacted community members to speak for themselves in front of D.C. (Washington, D.C.) lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to find a permanent solution for TPS recipients and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) holders,” she said.

To be eligible for TPS under this designation, DHS said individuals must demonstrate that they have continuously resided in the United States since July 29, 2021.

“In light of recent events in Haiti, including the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Secretary Mayorkas has modified this date from what was previously announced,” the statement said.

It said individuals who attempt to travel to the US, after July 29, 2021, “will not be eligible for TPS and may be subject to expulsion or removal.”

DHS said individuals applying for Haiti TPS must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, during the 18-month initial registration period that runs from Aug. 3, 2021, through Feb. 3, 2023. Haiti TPS applicants are eligible to file Form I-821 online, DHS said.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke addresses town hall meeting. Photo by Nelson A. King

Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, founding co-chair of the United States House of Representatives’ Caribbean and Haiti Caucuses, had dispatched a letter to President Biden urging him to “prioritize the needs of Haiti and members of the Haitian Diaspora.”

Clarke – the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the largely Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, – copied the letter to US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Mayorkas.

The letter was also signed by House Haiti Caucus co-chairs Congressmembers Andy Levin, Val Demings, Ayanna Pressley and Mondaire Jones; House Caribbean Caucus co-chairs Congressmembers Maxine Waters and Stacy Plaskett); and Members of the House Haiti and Caribbean Caucus, congressmembers Frederica Wilson, Adriano Espaillat, Sheila Jackson Lee, Grace Meng, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“As founding co-chair of both the House Caribbean and Haiti Caucuses, I have worked closely with my colleagues to insist the administration prioritize the needs of Haiti and members of the Haitian Diaspora that [who] call America home,” wrote Clarke, who is also chair of the US Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Immigration.

“Presently, Haiti is at an inflection point, and we must work together to promote peace and a Haitian-led democratic government,” the letter urged. “This letter outlines our urgent concerns and shares our collective caucus priorities regarding Haiti’s continued deteriorating situation.

“Our duty as Members of Congress is to uplift and support Haiti, and advance policies that will promote relationships that substantively and meaningfully engage Haitian civil society in defense of Haiti’s democracy, civil rights, and liberty,” the letter continued.

The letter was dispatched as a number of Haitian American legislators and groups in New York also called on the Biden administration to “create an easier pathway” for Haitians seeking political asylum.

In their letter, the elected officials, including New York State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, urged the administration to create this “easier pathway” by lifting the refugee admission ceiling, temporarily halting the deportation of Haitian migrants from the US, and providing the people of Haiti with humanitarian aid in the form of food assistance and additional COVID-19 vaccine doses.

“There is a crisis in Haiti that demands our immediate attention as Americans, and begs the continued action of your leadership,” said the letter, which was also signed by New York State Assemblymembers Michaelle Solages and Kimberly Jean-Pierre; New York City Council Member Farah N. Louis; and Democratic Party nominees for New York City Council Rita Joseph and Chi Osse.

The Biden administration has reiterated its commitment to supporting the Haitian people following the heinous assassination of President Moïse.

US Department of State spokesman Ned Price said US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken reiterated the pledge in a telephone call with new Haitian Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry.

“The secretary also underscored the need for Prime Minister Henry’s unity government to seek broad political and civil society consensus on government priorities,” Price said.

“Secretary Blinken, echoing the international community, emphasized the importance of establishing the conditions necessary for Haitians to vote in free and fair legislative and presidential elections as soon as feasible,” he added.

Moïse was assassinated on July 7 by a group of assassins, including a large number of Colombian mercenaries, in a daring raid on his private residence on the suburbs of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.