With tens of thousands of Haitians feared and now presumed dead, with much of Port au Prince destroyed, an issue on President Obama’s desk is whether he will sign off on granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians already in this country. It’s a non brainer, something he should have been done 3 days ago.
The Obama Administration noted that it would cease deporting deportable Haitians back to Haiti. This means that about 30,000 Haitians can remain in the U.S. for the time being— a good thing– albeit with no rights, no work authorization with which to work and send remittances back to their country in crisis, and with many in detention—a bad thing–.
Since news of the earthquake, President Obama said the people of Haiti will not be foresaken, yet his administration is foresaking these 30,000 Haitians now in legal limbo in the U.S.
TPS would provide a temporary (18 month) legal status to Haitians in this country. With such status they could find jobs and send remittances home, something Haiti desperately needs. This does not even come close to the bare minimum of what should be done to not forsake the people of Haiti.
TPS is a form of relief that Congress enacted into law back in 1990. Relief is to be granted to people in this country from homelands that have been struck by political upheaval–armed conflict–, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Since 2004, Haiti has faced each of these conditions.
Currently, citizens from Honduras, Nicaragua, el Salvador, Somalia, and Sudan have TPS status. Salvadorans were granted TPS in March 2001 because of a series of earthquakes that left about 1/4 of the country with adequate housing.
The situation in Haiti is MUCH MORE SEVERE!
The right wing Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has announced opposition to granting TPS for Haiti. The reason they give is that they assume Haitians won’t leave after TPS is lifted. They also say the Haiti situation does not meet TPS criteria. FAIR’s opposition is dishonest and wrongheaded. It is also racist.
I hope President Obama is not over-calculating his chances for comprehensive immigration reform later this year by appeasing the FAIR constituency on this crucial humanitarian issue. Such a non-response would indeed forsake Haiti in its time of need.
update: on fri. evening, DHS announced TPS to unauthorized Haitians in US , 30,000 and possibly up to 200,000 persons.