PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday October 11, 2017 – With the looming return of close to 60,000 Haitians in a few months, the Jovenel Moise administration has sent an urgent appeal to Washington to pull back its plan to send home Haitians currently living in the United States under Temporary Protection Status (TPS).
In an official letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor has formally requested that US immigration authorities grant an 18-month extension to the initiative which expires in January 2018.
He said Port-au-Prince was not in a position to meet the needs of the returning nationals in light of ongoing struggles to return to normalcy following the January 2010 earthquake, which was setback even further by extensive damage caused by recent storms.
“The detrimental impacts of the recent hurricanes have complicated our ability to recover from the 2010 earthquake…resulting in major disruptions of living conditions in the short term,” Altidor told Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke in the letter, adding that a visit to Haiti “would offer (you) insight on the challenges that we continue to face”.
Former US President Barack Obama had granted Haitians the TPS, which offered them short-term work permits and reprieves from deportation.
In May this year, the then DHS Secretary, John Kelly, approved a final six-month extension of TPS for Haitian refugees – the fifth such extension since the original designation following the earthquake.
He urged Haitians living in the US without another immigration status other than TPS to “prepare for and arrange their departure” before the revised expiration on January 22, 2018.
“This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients,” he said in a statement announcing the extension.