Eugene: Extend TPS for Haitians

New York City Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene has urged United States President Barack Obama to further extend the deadline for Haitians seeking renewal of their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beyond the Nov. 30 deadline.

“In light of the devastation Hurricane Sandy has caused, New Yorkers are still struggling to rebuild and recover. In the immediate aftermath, many communities were heavily impacted by power outages across the City; subways were closed, and transportation was limited for many,” said Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to New York City Council last Thursday.

“Due to these massive disruptions, normal activities, including the re-application of thousands of TPS holders, were put on hiatus,” added the representative for the largely Caribbean 40th Council District in Brooklyn, New York.

“New York City, which is home to many Haitians, was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. As a result, legal service providers, elected officials, and city agencies throughout the region have been deeply affected and have been unable to provide the necessary and vital services for TPS renewals as anticipated,” Dr. Eugene continued.

In September, the Obama administration said it was again extending TPS for tens of thousands of Haitians living illegally in the United States.

But Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano warned that “individuals who have not continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2011 will not be eligible.”

On Jan. 15, 2010, three days after the massive earthquake struck the impoverished, French-speaking Caribbean country, Napolitano announced the original designation of TPS for eligible Haitian nationals, who had continuously resided in the United States. It became effective on Jan. 21, 2010.

Currently, about 48,000 Haitian nationals with TPS reside in the United States, Napolitano said.

Napolitano had said that providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States, and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti, was part of the Obama administration’s “continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery.”

As a New York City Council member, representing the “largest, aggregate Haitian population in New York,” Eugene said he felt “compelled” to ask Obama to extend the Nov. 30 deadline in ensuring that TPS holders have access to resources and “ample time to re-apply” for TPS.

He said he “continues to work with nonprofit legal service providers to host regular, large-scale immigration clinics to alleviate the critical number of Haitians waiting to renew their TPS.”