Update: Government documents reveal that in deciding to terminate TPS, the Administration ignored the advice and reports of its own officials indicating that conditions in Haiti were not ripe for Haitian citizens with TPS to return. A lawsuit has been filed challenging the Administration’s decision to end Haitian TPS.
On January 18, 2018, the Administration announced that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. TPS was offered to Haitians already in the U.S., following the devastating earthquake in their country in 2010.
Congress created TPS to allow citizens of countries hard hit by natural disasters or civil conflict who are already in the U.S. to apply to stay and work here legally until our government determines they can safely return. TPS is normally granted and extended in 12 or 18-month increments.
The decision to terminate TPS, following one final 18 month extension until July 22, 2019, will affect about 50,000 Haitians who have been living and working legally in the U.S. since at least 2010. Their TPS has been repeatedly renewed as Haiti’s recovery has been hampered by flood, hurricanes, and cholera. The U.S. Embassy in Haiti’s own travel warning states that
The U.S. Embassy remains concerned about the security situation in the southern peninsula departments of Grand Anse and Sud following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. Embassy employees are not permitted to travel to those departments without special approval for and official trips only.
Medical care infrastructure, ambulances, and other emergency services are limited throughout Haiti.
Data shows that 16% of Haitians with TPS have lived in the U.S. for 20 or more years. They are parents to an estimated 27,000 U.S. children and their labor force participation is 81%, far higher than that of native-born U.S. citizens.
In Maine, Haitians with TPS work in agriculture, housekeeping, wreathmaking, elder care, hospitality, and myriad other sectors. With Maine’s shrinking workforce and low unemployment, losing these individuals who are already fully contributing members of our communities is bad not just for them, but for Maine.
Congress must pass legislation to create a path to permanent residency for long-term TPS holders. Various bills have been proposed to do just that. Maine’s Congressional delegation should work to resolve this issue urgently.