Because of the perilous situation in the Caribbean country, the Biden administration said on Monday that it will extend temporary legal status to Haitians who currently reside in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security said that Haitians who entered the country on November 6 may apply for Temporary Protected Status and those who received it the previous year could extend their stay by an extra 18 months until August 3, 2024.
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The government reversed a Trump-era trend to cut back on safeguards for people already in the country by expanding or introducing temporary status for Haiti, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Myanmar, Cameroon, and Venezuela. For nations affected by natural disasters or civil unrest, TPS, which normally comes with authorization to work, may be renewed in stepped-down periods of up to 18 months.
Since the killing of President Jovenel Mose in July 2021, gangs have increased their level of brazenness in their attacks on Haiti. More children are dying as a result of the widespread cholera outbreak that is also causing a rise in malnutrition.
According to Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security, “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime — aggravated by environmental disaster — compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today.”
The number of Haitians who are anticipated to gain from the expansion was not disclosed by Homeland Security. Following a tragic earthquake in Haiti in 2010, an estimated 40,000 people received TPS, which was recently extended to June 30, 2024. The 18-month extension announced on Monday includes an additional 3,200 people who received TPS last year.
An exodus to South America, Mexico, and the United States has been driven by the chaos in Haiti. After over 16,000 mostly Haitian migrants tented in the small Texas border town of Del Rio in September 2021, the US airlifted a large number of them back home. The government made use of a Trump-era regulation that revokes refugee rights in the name of halting COVID-19 proliferation.
As things became worse, there didn’t seem to be as many deportations to Haiti. The government hasn’t had a deportation flight to Haiti since September 6, according to the advocacy organization Witness at the Border, which keeps track of deportations.
Although that may not deter some, Haitians who enter the country after Monday’s declaration will not be eligible for TPS, according to officials. Haitians were apprehended by US officials more over 6,700 times along the Mexican border in October. This figure has increased every month since September 2021, making Haitians one of the most frequent nationalities to enter the border without authorization.
The announcement made on Monday will make more than 100,000 Haitians eligible for temporary status, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who sought for an increase and extension last week.
“Providing temporary protection to Haitian nationals in the United States is critically important as Haiti continues to face extreme physical conditions and deteriorating political instability,” he noted.
Advocates thanked the Biden administration.
Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance stated, “we rejoice and celebrate with our Haitian siblings and stand undeterred in solidarity as we continue to work with and for the Haitian and Haitian-American communities.”
Nearly 1 million individuals are eligible for TPS under Biden, more than twice as many as under Trump, according to the Cato Institute, an organization that supports more lenient immigration rules.