The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on November 20, 2017 that it will end Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS) effective July 22, 2019. Approximately 60,000 Haitians in the U.S. have TPS, nearly a quarter of whom have lived here for over 20 years, and many have U.S. citizen children.
TPS was created by Congress to provide individuals already in the U.S. when a natural catastrophe, or eruption or escalation of civil conflict strikes their country, an opportunity to stay and work legally in the U.S. until our government decides it is safe for them to return. TPS is typically granted in 12 or 18 month increments, which can be extended.
The U.S. designated Haiti for TPS after Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake, and has extended Haitian TPS multiple times. In explaining its decision to end Haitian TPS, DHS stated that conditions in Haiti have improved enough for Haitians with TPS to be repatriated. However, the State Department’s most recent human rights report on Haiti found there were still over 55,000 internally displaced Haitians living in tent camps, public K-12 education is neither free nor universally available, official corruption is common, human rights abuses abound, and conditions are still unsettled.
- Why does this matter to Maine’s business community?
Maine has many Haitians with TPS working throughout the state in agriculture, hospitality, factories, and healthcare settings, among others. They are important members of our communities and our economy, and they help shore up Maine’s shrinking workforce.
Announcements are also expected soon on whether TPS will be extended or ended for Hondurans, who have had it since 1999, and Salvadorans, who have had TPS since 2001. Termination of TPS for these two countries would result in over 250,000 more immigrants being pushed out of our country and our workforce. One report estimates that the U.S. economy will see a $164 billion drop in the GDP over a decade after Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans exit the workforce due to the ending of their TPS. The human toll is high as well. TPS holders from these three countries are parents to over 270,000 U.S. citizen children.
Several bills have been introduced in Congress that would provide a path to permanent residency for long-term TPS holders, but none are yet gaining real traction.