Kobach: Trump failed 'big test' on immigration with Haiti

22 November, 2017, 00:22 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • A final decision about the long-term fate of those immigrants will be decided at a later date

Former president Barack Obama's administration granted Haitian nationals in the USA so-called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months after a magnitude-7.0 quake struck near Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2011, killing more than 300,000 people.

The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country's original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last week publicly called TPS renewal for the Haitians, saying that those "sent home will face dire conditions, including lack of housing, inadequate health services and low prospects for employment".

Immigrants from the Caribbean nation received protected status in 2010 after a devastating quake.

But the official, one of several authorized to brief reporters, said that Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, after extensive research and input from US and Haitian government officials, as well as experts, had "assessed overall that extraordinary temporary conditions" that justified the designation in the first place, "had sufficiently improved such that they no longer prevent nationals of Haiti from returning".

At least 16 percent of Haitian TPS holders have lived in the US for at least two decades. The AP obtained internal emails in which a "top immigration official wanted not only crime data on Haitians who are protected from deportation under the Temporary Protected Status program, but also how many were receiving public benefits". We must remain committed to those principles and stand with our neighbors in Haiti as they tackle their challenges. "Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens", the statement notes.

The official cited a sharp decrease in the number of internally displaced persons as a result of the natural disaster, and said that a legitimate Haitian government is now in place.

"The law makes it clear that TPS for Haiti must end", he said.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January, the department has terminated temporary permit programs for Sudan and Nicaragua.

The senior official who briefed reporters, said that the 18-month "wind-down" period for the Haitians was enough time "to allow families with USA -born children to make decisions about what to do, and make arrangements".

Forry said government officials should realize that TPS beneficiaries entered the country legally and are paying taxes.

The federal government rarely has canceled TPS designations once granting them.

Advocates in May were requesting an 18-month extension for TPS for Haiti, but then-DHS Secretary Kelly granted a six-month extension. A report by the United Nations in January said the country is still mired in poverty and struggling to recover from a legacy of political upheaval and serial disasters, with about 2.5 million people still needing help. Meanwhile, those who stayed in Haiti are anxious about what will happen to fragile Haitian economy when this decision dents the money sent home from the mainland, which accounts for an estimated 25% of Haiti's GDP.


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