After being displaced by the devastating earthquake of 2010, the Biden administration on Saturday granted special protection to Haitian temporarily residing in the United States, reversing efforts by the previous administration to force them to leave the country.
Decision, Announced by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Meyerkas makes good on President Biden’s campaign promise to reinstate a program that President Donald J. Under Trump, restrictive policies protect thousands of Haitian migrants from the threat of deportation.
Mr. Meyerkas said the new 18-month designation, known as temporary protected status, would apply to Haitian people already in the United States until Friday.
“Haiti is currently facing serious security concerns, social unrest, increased human rights abuses, crippling poverty and lack of basic resources, exacerbated by the Kovid-19 epidemic,” Mr. Meyerkas said in a statement on Saturday said.
The protections enacted in the 1990 law allow foreigners who have had to flee their homes due to natural disasters and conflict, to work and live in the United States. Haiti is one of 11 countries that are beneficiaries of the program, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Obama administration granted temporary protected status to Haitian illegally residing in the United States following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January 2010.
Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the new designation could protect as many people as possible 150,000 Haitian Returning to the political and security crisis in his country.
“The last thing our country should do is to decide between packing an entire community in America to pack their lives and separate their families from self-exile, or being unspecified and forced into the shadows of our society Forcing, ”Mr. Menendez said in a statement on Saturday.
As part of its rigorous efforts to curb legal and illegal immigration, the Trump administration sought to end protections for nearly 400,000 migrants living in the United States, including Haitian. Officials at the time said that the emergency situations that forced immigrants to flee their countries – earthquakes, hurricanes, civil wars – occurred long ago and most immigrants no longer needed the shelter provided by the United States was.
The lawsuits halted the cancellation, but in September a federal appeals court favored the Trump administration, giving notice to hundreds of thousands of immigrants that they would have to leave the country or face deportation. Many of the affected people had been living in the United States for years. The Trump administration agreed to maintain security at least in early 2021, meaning that a new administration could decide to continue the policy.
Immigration advocates have called on the Biden administration to reinstate the temporary designation for Haitian and other immigrants living in the country and welcomed the decision announced on Saturday.
“Better late than before,” National TPS Alliance, a grassroots organization Wrote on twitter.
In March, the Biden administration issued special protections for 320,000 Venezuelan people living in the United States, citing the extraordinary humanitarian crisis in the country led by President Nicolas Maduro.
But some said more needs to be done to allow those immigrants to live permanently in the United States.
“The Haitians have been living in uncertainty for the past several months,” Erica Andiola, chief advocacy officer of the nonprofit organization Riceis, said in a statement. “In the future, the indefinite can be resolved through a permanent reform through legislation that puts TPS holders on the path to citizenship,” she added, using the acronym for the program.
This month, the House passed a bill that would pave the way for citizenship for an estimated four million unspecified immigrants living in the United States, providing temporary protected status for humanitarian reasons. The bill passed mostly along party lines, and getting it through an evenly divided Senate is likely to be a challenge.