Obama Administration Extends NAACP-Supported “Temporary Protected Status” For Haitians

EXTENSION OF STATUS WILL ALLOW HAITIAN IMMIGRANTS CURRENTLY IN THE UNITED STATES TO AVOID DEPORTATION FOR 18 ADDITIONAL MONTHS UNTIL JANUARY 2013

As part of the Administration’s on-going response to the catastrophic earthquake which devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, and the political, social and economic problems that persist, the Obama Administration announced on May 17, 2011, that it was extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals currently in the United States. On April 4, 2011, the NAACP wrote to President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and urged them to extend the TPS designation, especially in light of the fact that “Haiti remains a country in crisis and safe return is not possible. Deporting Haitians who arrived too late to register for TPS would place at risk the lives of those being returned.”

Temporary protected status (TPS) grants temporary protection from deportation to nationals of a country in which environmental events or political or economic conditions have occurred which make it temporarily unsafe to deport them. TPS has been granted to nationals of many countries including those of Nicaragua and Honduras in 1999 following Hurricane Mitch, and of El Salvador in 2001 following severe earthquakes.

Immediately following the January 12, 2010 earthquake which killed over 250,000 people, displaced 1.3 million (more than one-tenth of Haiti’s total population) and caused upwards of $14 billion in economic damage, the NAACP contacted President Obama and urged him to grant TPS to Haitians in the United States. We were pleased when, on January 15, 2010, President Obama announced TPS which has allowed some 50,000 Haitians to remain in the United States and assist their home country by working in the U.S. and sending remittances to family members to further aid in Haiti’s reconstruction. Unfortunately, as Haiti has been attempting to recover from the earthquake, it has seen additional, unwanted challenges. In October, Haiti was hit with a virulent cholera outbreak. Over the past three months, more than 3,600 Haitians have died and 400,000 more have been sickened. The strain of cholera, which can kill in just a few hours, has put further strain on the already fragile medical, social, economic and political systems.

Under the new re-designation, eligible individuals who arrived in the United States up to one year after the earthquake in Haiti may now apply for TPS. Many of these individuals were authorized to enter the United States immediately after the earthquake on temporary visas, humanitarian parole and other measures.

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