House Haiti Caucus hails Haitian TPS Designation

Rep Val Demings, (D-FL), speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law on "Online Platforms and Market Power" in the Rayburn House office Building on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2020.
Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS, file

The United States House of Representatives’ Haiti Caucus on Wednesday praised a new 18-month Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haitians living in the United States.

The Joe Biden administration two Saturdays ago re-designated TPS to over 100,000 undocumented Haitians.

“As the chairs of the Haiti Caucus, we welcome President Biden’s decision to grant Haitians living in the United States Temporary Protected Status,” said the Caucus co-chairs — Andy Levin, of Michigan; Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, of Brooklyn; Val Demings, of Florida; and Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts — in a statement.

“It is wrong to force people to return to uncertain and dangerous conditions in Haiti,” they added. “This is a necessary step that will protect Haitian migrants amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing political crisis in Haiti.

“We are deliberate in calling this a ‘step,’” they continued, urging the Biden administration to examine all of its policies concerning Haiti and “act urgently” on the requests outlined, on April 26, by the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Gregory Meeks, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries; and dozens more members.

The US House Haiti Caucus said more action is needed “to ensure the health, wellbeing and human rights of the Haitian people.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the Biden/Harris administration to provide a permanent pathway to citizenship for TPS holders, and build an immigration system that affirms the dignity and humanity of all people,” they said.

Last week, Haitian leaders and immigration advocates in New York welcomed the Biden administration’s decision.

New York City Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene, a longtime advocate for immigration rights, joined Haitian leaders and New York legislators in commending US Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer for his advocacy to help secure an 18-month extension of TPS for Haitians.

The councilman, a candidate for Brooklyn Borough president, said Haiti “has been through more than its fair share of challenges that have disrupted the economy,” as it continues to rebuild from the 2010 earthquake and numerous tropical storms.

“I am most appreciative to President Biden, Senator Charles Schumer, the New York Congressional Delegation, and the many immigration advocates who have worked diligently to make this humanitarian gesture of extending Temporary Protected Status a reality,” he said.

“Senator Schumer has been with us from the very beginning of the advocacy for Temporary Protected Status, and the Haitian community is indebted to him for his partnership and his longstanding support of this very importance cause,” Eugene added.

Schumer said: “This is a great day, because we worked together to achieve Temporary Protected Status for Haiti.

“Mathieu Eugene was one of the first people to introduce me to the Haitian community in Brooklyn,” he said. “C’est une jeux merveilleuse (French for it’s a marvelous day). You are great Americans. You are the American dream. You work hard for yourselves and your community; and, by working hard, you create a better community for Brooklyn, for New York and for the United States.”

Last Wednesday, New York City Council Member Farah N. Louis, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, thanked the Biden administration for its decision, saying that “this is a significant step that alleviates the threat of displacement and deportation for approximately 150,000 Haitians living in New York City and across the United States who have built families and businesses here but lacked protected status.

“Issuing a new TPS designation will also avoid putting further strain on Haiti, as it continues to face serious political, economic and security challenges,” Louis, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life. “In doing so, the Biden administration has lived up to its campaign pledge to help the Haitian community.

“They have also reaffirmed America’s commitment to humanitarian values,” she added. “Only by working together may we provide a better future for the Haitian people.”

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella group of immigrant advocacy organizations in New York, also welcomed the TPS extension, saying that the Biden administration “affirmed America’s commitment to its humanitarian values.

“Haitian New Yorkers can now rest easier knowing that their families can stay together and in their communities as a vital part of our economic and social fabric,” said Murad Awawdeh, NYIC’s executive director.

“The situation in Haiti remains dire, which is why TPS remains a lifeline for Haitian families fleeing environmental degradation, violence and extreme poverty in their home country,” he added. “However, the only way to ensure that Haitian New Yorkers and other TPS recipients no longer fall prey to the political whims of our elected leaders is for Congress to take steps now, to correct the situation with a permanent legislative fix”.

US Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said that the new TPS designation enables Haitian nationals — and individuals without nationality who last resided in Haiti — currently residing in the United States, as of May 21, 2021, to file initial applications for TPS, “so long as they meet eligibility requirements.”

The Brooklyn-based Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (HWHR) has also hailed the extension of TPS for Haitians.

“Members of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees joined the National TPS Alliance in 2017 to protect TPS and vow to fight for a permanent solution for TPS holders from all countries that have been granted the status,” Ninaj Raoul, HWHR’s Executive Director, told Caribbean Life.

“Our members will continue to push forward together with our allies from all countries granted TPS and their fellow dreamers who are DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, until the passage of the Dream and Promise ACT, which will win permanent residency for all TPS holders and DACA recipients,” she added.

Raoul noted that, while on his campaign presidential campaign trail in 2020, Biden, then a US Presidential Candidate, “made several promises to the Haitian community.”

She said that among them was “re-instating Temporary Protective Status for Haitian nationals living in the US, a status that was wrongfully terminated by the Trump administration.”

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