After years of being shielded from deportation from the United States while their country recovers from a devastating 2010 earthquake, tens of thousands of Haitians will lose that security status.
“It was assessed overall that the extraordinary but temporary conditions that served as the basis of Haiti’s most recent designation has sufficiently improved such that they no longer prevent nationals of Haiti from returning safely,” a senior Trump administration official said during a briefing.
Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, will be revoked for at least 50,000 Haitians living and working in the U.S.
The protection will expire July 22, 2019, giving Haitians living in the U.S. an 18-month window to go back to their homeland or legalize their status in the United States. At the end of the deadline, Haitians will return to the immigration status they previously held, leaving them facing possible detention and deportation.
Advocates argue that Haiti is in no condition to handle the influx, seven years after the 7.0-magnitude quake created billions of dollars in damages, and left 300,000 dead, 1.5 million injured and an equal number internally displaced.
The country was also recently hit by Hurricane Matthew, which created $2.8 billion in damages last year, followed by damage from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Haiti also continues to suffer from a deadly cholera epidemic.
Last week, the Office of Civil Protection confirmed that at least five people had died and 10,000 homes were flooded after days of rain.
Earlier this month, in terminating the TPS program for thousands of Nicaraguans who fled to the U.S. after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and deferring a decision on 57,000 similarly affected Hondurans until July, the acting secretary of homeland security, Elaine Duke, acknowledged the “difficulties” families would face and called on Congress to find a permanent solution.
Last week, Representatives Yvette Clarke, a Democrat from New York; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican; and Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, introduced a bill to protect TPS immigrants, hoping the so-called Aspire Act would attract bipartisan support by offering a path to permanent residency to those who could prove they would face genuine hardship in their home country.