Eugene, Brooklyn group urge Trump to renew TPS for Haitians

Haitians fear deportation

New York City Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn-based Haitian-American Council for Unity and Empowerment (HACUE) have launched a petition urging United States President Donald Trump and the US Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians living illegally in the US.

In the introduction to the petition, launched on Friday, Eugene and HACUE “urge your support to call upon President Donald Trump and the Secretary of Homeland Security to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.”

“Whereas Haiti has suffered horrific devastation from multiple natural disasters, including four tropical storms in 2008, the horrific 2010 earthquake, and the recent hurricane in 2016,” the petition reads. “Whereas Haiti cannot withstand an influx of deported Haitian nationals who will put additional strain on the country’s ongoing economic challenges. Whereas Haiti has a severely damaged socioeconomic infrastructure, which the government is still in the process of rebuilding.

“Whereas Haiti is coping with an unprecedented outbreak of cholera and other public health crises,” it adds. “Whereas Haiti has gone through tremendous political unrest and is working to stabilize its government institutions. “We, the undersigned, request that the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, hereby extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti as a humanitarian gesture that will alleviate the country’s socioeconomic burden and ease its recovery.”

Eugene said the petition is part of his “ongoing effort to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Haiti while providing Haitians living abroad the opportunity to remain in a stable environment.

“Any country in the world, even a rich country, would find it difficult to recover after several natural disasters,” he said. “I think it makes sense that we, as elected officials and concerned citizens, advocate and work together to insure that the American government and Homeland Security grant TPS to the Haitian people.

“This act will serve as an important gesture of goodwill and sympathy for Haiti as the country continues to recover and rebuild,” he added.

Last month, New York City Council passed a resolution, introduced by Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to the City Council, requesting that the US Secretary of Homeland Security renew TPS for undocumented Haitian nationals.

Earlier this month, Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke introduced legislation in the United States House of Representatives that would dramatically expand the TPS program to include all Haitian nationals who were in the United States prior to Nov. 4, 2016.

Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the ninth Congressional District in Brooklyn, said the bill would grant 18 months of TPS to every eligible Haitian.

She said TPS for Haitian nationals living in the United States was established after the Jan. 12, 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti “to start the process of recovery and to provide invaluable support in the form of remittances to family members there.

“The program was created – and extended – based on need,” Clarke said. “Those needs have increased since Haiti suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Matthew last year, when hundreds of people were killed and thousands of families were displaced.

“Unfortunately, despite the difficulties in Haiti, the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] previously refused to grant TPS to Haitians who reached the United States after 2011, excluding thousands of people who would deservedly benefit,” Clarke added. “Therefore, Congress must act.”

If enacted, she said the Haiti Emergency Relief Act of 2017 would allow Haitian nationals to “maintain their remittances, which amount to about 25 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, and the people of Haiti to continue the process of recovery.

“I urge my colleagues in Congress to work together to aid the people of Haiti at this crucial time,” she said.

In November, Clarke had urged the Obama administration to immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians, stating that “the majority of the people DHS intends to remove have not been accused of any crime.”

Clarke, with 13 of her congressional colleagues, had urged then DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to suspend the removal of Haitian nationals who have not been convicted of a serious crime or otherwise present a threat to US national security.