Seven years after a devastating earthquake, Haitians who had enjoyed Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and freedom from deportation from the United States will see that privilege expire on July 22, 2019. The Trump administration is thus giving 59,000 Haitians living and working in Miami and the rest of the U.S. an 18-month window to return to Haiti or become legal residents. Once the grace period ends, they will revert to their previous immigrant status and be subject to possible deportation. The decision came just two weeks after Homeland Security announced the termination of TPS for 2,500 Nicaraguans and delaying a decision for 57,000 Hondurans. Those two groups will have automatically receive a six-month extension after their current status expires in January.

TPS allows people from countries facing war, civil strife or major natural disasters who are already in the United States to temporarily remain and work here. President Donald Trump has often pledged to impose more stringent immigration measures. Congress, according to immigration advocates, should provide a permanent fix for the more than 300,000 Haitians and Central Americans who currently are protected from deportation under TPS. In May, DHS announced a limited extension of six months for Haitians. It took effect July 22. As a result, a wave of Haitian TPS-holders illegally crossed into Quebec out of fear of deportation. Quebec already has a sizeable community of Haitians, most of whom speak French.

Canada appears to be fearful that thousands of TPS-holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua will seek to flee to Canada. Recently, a Spanish-speaking member of Canada’s parliament, Randy Boissonnault, traveled to Miami where he spoke to members of the Haitian and Central American communities in an effort to discourage them from illegally crossing into his country. According to a study by the Center for Migration Studies, most Haitian TPS-holders have been living in the United States for 13 years and have 27,000 American citizen children among them. More than 80 percent are employed, while 6,200 have mortgages. Some TPS-holders from Central America have been living in the U.S. for almost 20 years.

In early January, the DHS must also decide whether to extend TPS status for 200,000 Salvadorans, who were given permits to stay after El Salvador was struck in 2001 by earthquakes

At the Capitol Building last week, a group of immigrant advocates assembled to demand that Haitian TPS-holders remain in the country. "Anyone traveling back to Haiti can see for themselves that these conditions are inhumane. It is truly as if it was the day after the 2010 earthquake,” said Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY). She recently proposed a bill that would provide permanent residency for certain TPS holders if it is determined that they would face extreme hardship upon their return.

In a 2017 study of TPS holders, published in the Journal on Migration and Human Security, experts examined immigrants El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, and found:

The five leading industries in which TPS-holders are: construction (51,700), restaurants and other food services (32,400), landscaping services (15,800), child day care services (10,000), and grocery stores (9,200) …

Ten percent of Salvadorans, nine percent of the Haitians, and six percent of the Hondurans with TPS status are married to a legal resident …

87 percent of TPS beneficiaries from those ocuntries speak at least some English, while a little over 50 percent speak English well, very well, or only English…

Median household income was $50,000 for Salvadorans, $40,000 for Hondurans, and $45,000 for Haitians. In 2015, median household income in the United States was about $56,000

Democrats argue that TPS beneficiares have as many as American-citizen children, born in the U.S., as one reason to keep them all in the country. In addition, they cite the effect that remittances sent by TPS-holders have for their home countries. 



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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