At City Hall, City Council Member Mathieu Eugene surrounded by community advocates and activists, union members and other City Council representatives pleaded with the Secretary of Homeland Security to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.
TPS is an immigration status offered due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely. Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war) or an environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic are possible conditions for a country’s nationals receiving TPS status.
“It will be a very important humanitarian gesture for the Haitian people,” Eugene said. “We have approximately 50,000 Haitians in the United States who have TPS, and the renewal of this status is how they can continue to provide for their families.”
TPS provides immigration relief that has allowed Haitians to live and work freely in the United States. Having been renewed three times, TPS is set to expire July 22.
Immediately after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake that killed almost 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless, Haiti received TPS status for 18 months for those in Haiti during the earthquake. In 2011 it was extended to include individuals present up to January 2011. Forty thousand Haitians still live in tents.
Eugene reminded those gathered that Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake, has had an outbreak of cholera, and just last fall’s hurricane devastated the southern part of the country. “It cannot receive an influx of 50,000 people,” he said.
James McCament, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (ISCIS), said TPS should be terminated. “Conditions in Haiti no longer support its designation for TPS,” McCament said in a memo to U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary John F. Kelly according to the Miami Herald.
Councilman Alan Maisel reminded those present that people in his Canarsie District are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, and that is in this country. Imagine a country with so many economic and infrastructure challenges, he prodded. “Please take pity, President Trump,” he implored. “Have compassion and help the people of Haiti.”
Retired Auxiliary Bishop Guy A. Sansaricq from Brooklyn, an unwavering Haiti advocate, as well as a representatives from NYLAG — New York Legal Assistance Group, the Legal Aid Society and Union 32BJ — holding signs reading “Don’t Hurt Haitian Families” were among the many present advocating for TPS renewal.
Holding a sign that read “Kite Yo Rete, Let Them Stay,” David Calvert of YouthBuild NYC Collaborative, an organization that has youth job and leadership projects in Haiti endorsed Councilman Eugene’s petition and the need to ensure the rights of Haitians in New York City. He added that U.S. policy should assist in the development of Haiti.
Eugene said that TPS holders contribute $280 million to the economy and Haitians send a tremendous amount — $1.3 billion — home; grandmothers raise kids and recent arrivals have opened small businesses.
“We’re doctors, teachers, and taxi drivers and contribute to the fabric of America,” he emphasized. We must join forces and raise our voices. Haiti is still in need.”