Renew and prepare: Lawyer advises TPS recipients to plan for any possibility

Renew and prepare: Lawyer advises TPS recipients to plan for any possibility
Haitian-American atttorney, Ritha Pierre, center, rallying at a protest she co-organized with the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York and other advocacy groups last year.
Caleb Caldwell

As the ninth anniversary since the launch of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitians approaches, many recipients would have been preparing to apply for their final renewal and awaiting its impending termination on July 19. But since a federal judge in California granted a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s decision to end the program for Haiti and three other countries — the deadline dates are indefinitely delayed.

Currently, there are several lawsuits against the Trump administration’s move to end TPS for designated countries. On Jan. 7, trial proceedings began at a Downtown Brooklyn courthouse in the Saget et al vs. Trump et al case — a lawsuit challenging the president’s motive to end TPS for Haiti. Despite the outcome of the case being hopeful, and granting Haitian immigrants with some relief, many people need to remain alert about any possibility, said an attorney with the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York.

“I think right now a lot of TPS recipients need to try and get in contact with legal services to make sure everything they have is accurate, and make sure that they have the proper documents and don’t miss the deadline to renew,” said Ritha Pierre, a board member of the organization.

Last year, Pierre organized a protest to press the government officials to extend TPS for Haitians, who were granted the temporary documentation after a devastating earthquake in 2010. But recently, Pierre said she has not seen the same momentum regarding the spread of information, but hopes that changes.

“I’ve seen a decline in community forums and training, the spread of TPS information for the community,” said Pierre. “A lot of people are not sure what to do, and I don’t think people should just sit back and see what happens. All of these changes are going on and people need to know what it means.”

Churches and radio stations are two entities that immigrants often turn to, and serve as great avenues to getting the information out to people, she said.

She said with more advocacy from not only the recipients, but from local and community leaders — people living and working in the U.S. with TPS will at least be prepared for the best and worst, because of President Trump’s unpredictable actions.

“Things are moving in a direction that may be a hope to getting a longer extension or pathway to extension or citizenship,” said Pierre.

Because of the court battles, she is hopeful that with enough advocacy and attention brought to it, a positive conclusive result is very likely.

“At one point in time you didn’t think there was any hope,” said Pierre. “But with all the different cases coming out and rallies and lawsuits that are being filed — it is being acknowledged, and these are small victories.”

She said whatever the outcome of the trial, or if other lawsuits are won, she urged recipients to remain up-to-date with what is current, and create a plan should no extension get granted.

“I want people to be vigilant, have a plan of action, and stay engaged with what’s going on, and if there is a rally, don’t stay home and just watch it,” she said. “With any situation in life, you don’t want to live in fear, but you do want to be prepared and not because of the lack of information.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.

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