Eugene seeks support for mother of TPS beneficiary who committed suicide

Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene represents a district with one of the largest Haitian populations in the city.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Brooklyn Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene says he is seeking support for the mother of a Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiary who took his own life on June 11.

Eugene, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, said the unidentified mother, a disabled woman who is raising three children, “recently lost her son to suicide triggered in part by financial hardship that is expected to worsen with the end of TPS.

“Her son, who could not afford to attend his high school graduation and could not pay for TPS, pursued a number of employment opportunities to assist his family,” said Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to New York City Council. “In the end, however, the emotional toll of being a financial burden to his parents was too much for him to handle.

“Now, with her oldest daughter facing the same uncertain future as her son, the grieving mother is struggling to provide for her family in what has become an increasingly perilous living situation,” added Eugene, whose district comprises a large concentration of Haitian immigrants.”

Earlier this month, Eugene said the mother attended one of his TPS clinics in Brooklyn, “where she received assistance with her renewal of TPS, including a registration fee waiver due to the family’s recent hardship.”

In addition, Eugene said he contacted local medical professionals to provide the family with grief counseling, and is now working in setting up resources in the community to “help the mother and her family gain financial stability.

“Her ordeal has brought to light the stark reality that many families face given the uncertainty of TPS,” he said. “A mother, who has worked hard to raise her family in the United States, must now deal with the horrific loss of her son.

“He was a source of strength in their lives – a brother and a son who had a promising future, and now he’s gone, all because of financial distress,” he said, calling on the community to “come together in support of the family, as they seek gestures of goodwill and compassion.”

A number of immigration activists and lawyers, particularly those in Miami have said that the fight to extend TPS for 58,000 undocumented Haitians living in the United States is not over.

Dozens of Haitians last month poured into the Little Haiti Cultural Complex in Miami hoping to find answers to their fate from a panel of immigration lawyers, according to the Miami Herald.

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 group.

Many Haitians are increasingly fearful of possible deportation and what that could do to their families, especially after the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advised Haitian TPS recipients to get their affairs in order, the Herald said.

After months of advocacy, letters and protests, US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly announced in June 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 next year.

But Kelly warned that the extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the US “time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.”

However, he said that the US Congress could ultimately resolve the matter by changing the legislation.

Kelly had made a brief stop in Miami after a trip to Haiti in early June, where he spent more than an hour discussing TPS and other Trump administration concerns with new Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and senior officials with the government and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Herald said.

It said the US Homeland Security Secretary urged Moïse to start thinking about how to bring Haiti’s TPS recipients back to their homeland by issuing travel documents or identification.

In April, the acting director of US Citizenship of Immigration Services, James McCament, recommended a final six-month extension for Haiti and then termination on Jan. 22, 2017.

But Kelly’s decision doesn’t put an absolute end date on the program, according to the Herald.

He said the argument that Haiti should keep receiving the benefit seven years after the cataclysmic earthquake left more than 300,000 dead, 1.5 million homeless and an equal number injured, is “questionable.”

status, she said, the fight to hold onto TPS beyond January is only now intensifying.

“The motto today was ‘to give hope to the families.’ But at the same time, to let them know that this fight is not going to be easy. It’s probably going to be the hardest fight ever,” Bastien said.

Bastien said she plans to take the TPS extension fight to Capitol Hill in Washington, seeking out additional support from congressional lawmakers.

More from Around NYC