Haiti requests 18-month TPS extension

Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States, Paul Altidor.
Tyler Kaufman / Associated Press for Xavier University of Louisiana

Haiti’s government has written to the Trump administration in the United States to formally ask for an 18-month extension of the temporary protected status (TPS) to prevent thousands of Haitians living in the United States from deportation, according to reports.

The request, delivered to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was written by Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States, Paul Altidor, on behalf of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, reported the Miami Herald.

The paper said the request includes an invitation to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke to visit Haiti before the decision next month on whether to TPS for nearly 60,000 undocumented Haitians.

TPS for the Haitians is set to expire Jan. 22. A decision on extension is expected in November, possibly along with a decision on TPS for some Central Americans, who are also up for renewal, the Herald said.

“A visit to Haiti would offer you insight on the challenges that we continue to face,” writes Altidor, stating that Haiti has faced several devastating blows — including flooding from Hurricanes Irma and Maria — since the initial designation in 2010 after Haiti’s massive earthquake.

“The detrimental impacts of the recent hurricanes have complicated our ability to recover from the 2010 earthquake,” adds Altidor. “Cholera and Hurricane Matthew have exacerbated the situation on the ground, resulting in major disruptions of living conditions in the short term.”

In May, DHS extended Haiti’s TPS designation for just six months, arguing that conditions in the French-speaking Caribbean country had improved since the earthquake left 300,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless, according to the Herald.

Then-DHS Secretary John Kelly, who is now President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, said DHS would re-evaluate the designation ahead of the January expiration date but said he had warned Moïse to prepare to bring his people back from the US, according to the Herald.

It said fears over the program’s end and a subsequent return to Haiti have caused panic for some in the Haitian community.

Earlier this summer, thousands of Haitian TPS recipients and others with temporary work authorizations fled illegally to Canada across the New York state border, overwhelming Canadian authorities, the Herald said.

Concerned about the illegal migration, the paper said Altidor ramped up the government’s outreach, holding discussions with DHS, the US Department of State, the White House, and Republican and Democratic members of the US Congress about the need for TPS extension.

During the confirmation hearing for Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Haiti, Michele J. Sison, US Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, last week asked Sison about the implications for the Haitian government if TPS is not extended, according to the Herald.

Sison didn’t really answer, the Herald said, focusing her response more on the process of TPS designation and the US helping to build resilience with its Haiti programs.

“I think it would be difficult for them to absorb it,” Rubio said. “But if that’s the decision, the administration makes — which I hope they do not — if they did, my view is that the embassy will have a lot of work on its hands and the government of Haiti will require a lot of assistance.”

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