The Department of Homeland Security will decide by November 23 whether 59,000 Haitians who benefit from Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, will be allowed to stay in the United States, or will be forced to return to a country that is incapable of taking them back.
Haiti was initially granted TPS in 2010, following a catastrophic earthquake that, according to government figures, killed up to 300,000 people and displaced more than a million. TPS was reauthorize several times after that, following a record breaking Hurricane and cholera epidemic introduced by UN peacekeepers. Hurricanes Irma and Maria compounded the damage from all of this.
Conventional wisdom says that TPS for Haiti won’t be renewed past its expiration on January 22. Here’s why:
Last week DHS declined to extend TPS for Nicaragua, which, like Haiti, is perpetually hammered by natural disasters. In October, the State Department called for an end to TPS in Haiti and several Central American countries. And last May, then DHS Secretary John Kelly reluctantly granted Haiti a 6 month extension, warning Haitian immigrants to use that time to “handle their affairs,” and arrange departures from the U.S.
A handful of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who support TPS see where this is headed. They’ve pressed DHS for an extension, and introduced bills to provide TPS beneficiaries with Permanent Residency and a path to citizenship. But they’re up against a Trump Administration bent on banning most immigrants from entering the country, and expelling those who are already here.
I understand it looks bad. However, none of these factors, definitively at least, closes the door on TPS for Haiti. To keep things in perspective, here are three things you should know.
1. Nicaragua Didn’t Comply With The TPS Statute, But Haiti Did
Under the governing statute, TPS is permitted when conditions in an immigrant’s home country make it too dangerous to return. But in cases that involve an environmental disaster, DHS cannot authorize TPS unless the nation at issue requests it.