Immigrant advocates, Bichotte Hermelyn applaud TPS extension for Haiti

Murad Awawdeh
Murad Awawdeh, NYIC’s executive director.
NYIC

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State, and Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn on Tuesday welcomed the Joe Biden administration’s extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti for an additional 18 months.

The administration said on Monday that TPS will be extended from Feb. 4, 2023, through Aug. 3, 2024, “due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Haiti.”
Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas also “redesignated Haiti for TPS”, allowing Haitian nationals residing in the United States, as of Nov. 6, 2022, to apply for TPS through Aug. 3, 2024, “so long as they meet all eligibility requirements.”

According to the National Immigration Forum, more than 56,000 Haitians are enrolled in the program, including 5,200 in New York State.

New York City is considered second to Miami for the largest concentration of Haitians in the United States.

Murad Awawdeh, NYIC’s executive director, told Caribbean Life that many Haitians arrived earlier in the US as refugees, escaping violent displacement and climate disaster.

“The extension and redesignation of TPS for Haiti recognizes the ongoing political instability and the continuing crisis in Haiti,” he said. “We applaud the Biden administration for extending and redesignating TPS for Haiti, as Haitian New Yorkers cannot return to a country that continues to be unsafe and in turmoil.”

At the same time, Awawdeh urged the Biden administration to also include El Salvador, Mauritania, Nicaragua and Venezuela for TPS extension and redesignation.

Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, noted that “Haiti is reeling from multiple crises.”

She said these include natural disasters, political instability and the assassination of their former president, and COVID-19.

“The US needs to aid the people of Haiti in their homeland and in our nation as they desperately face these problems,” she told Caribbean Life.

“I sincerely thank all the advocates and legislators, including members of the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON), who supported the Haiti Development, Accountability and Institutional Transparency Initiative Act,” she added.

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn.
Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn. Office of Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte

Bichotte Hermelyn said she was also “grateful” to US Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer for “leading the Senate passage of the sweeping bill, which will extend and predesignate TPS for Haitians in the US, along with measuring the progress of post-disaster recovery and promoting efforts to address corruption, governance, rule of law and media freedoms.”

In hailing the Biden administration’s announcement on Monday, Schumer (D-NY) said he was “proud” that the administration heeded his call to extend TPS for Haiti and “redesignate Haiti for TPS, protecting Haitians in New York and across the country.

“Providing temporary protection to Haitian nationals in the United States is critically important as Haiti continues to face extreme physical conditions and deteriorating political instability,” he told Caribbean Life, noting that concurrent crises, including political unrest, food insecurity and environmental disaster have left millions of Haitians in need of assistance.

“Congress created Temporary Protected Status to keep people from harm,” Schumer added. “Today’s action will grant more than 100,000 Haitians in the US the opportunity to gain Temporary Protected Status and to receive that protection in America.”

Mayorkas stressed in a statement on Monday that “Haitians entering the United States after Nov. 6, 2022, are not eligible for TPS and, like other individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States, will be subject to removal,

“To repeat: Haitians entering the United States after Nov. 6, 2022, including those who might be considering entering now, are not eligible for TPS,” he said. “We are providing much-needed humanitarian relief to Haitian nationals already present in the United States. “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime – aggravated by environmental disaster – compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Mayorkas extended and redesignated Haiti for TPS after consultation with interagency partners and “careful consideration of the extraordinary and temporary conditions in Haiti, including a prolonged political crisis; grave insecurity and gang crime that worsened a dire economic situation; a lack of access to food, water, fuel and health care during a resurgence of cholera; and the recent catastrophic earthquakes.”

“It is, as indicated above, important to note that TPS will apply only to those individuals who already have been residing in the United States as of Nov. 6, 2022, and who meet all other requirements,” the statement emphasized.

“Those who attempt to travel to the United States after this announcement will not be eligible for TPS and, if they enter irregularly or without legal authorization, will be subject to repatriation,” it added.

DHS said a soon-to-be-published Federal Register notice will explain the eligibility criteria, timelines, and procedures necessary for current beneficiaries to re-register and renew Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), and for new applicants to submit an initial application under the redesignation and apply for an EAD.

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