Nearly 60,000 Haitians will be forced to leave the United States within the upcoming 18 months, thanks to a decision made by the Trump administration on Monday. In a press release, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would cease shielding 59,000 Haitian immigrants from deportation through the Temporary Protected Status program. The state of Florida is set to be influenced the most by Monday’s decision, with roughly 30,000 Haitian TPS recipients living in the state.
The TPS program was established in 1990 to grant the nationals of foreign countries permission to remain in the United States “due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.” Such conditions include armed conflicts and environmental disasters; Haiti was included in the TPS program in 2010, after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that took between 200,000-316,000 lives.
As the Washington Post reported, a senior Trump administration official said the DHS came to its decision after finding that the “extraordinary conditions” Haitian immigrants needed protection from “no longer exist.”
Haitian advocates have strongly pushed for the renewal of Haitian immigrants’ protected status on the grounds that the country has not recovered nearly enough to bear the return of tens of thousands.
“Haiti is not ready to absorb 58,000,” Marleine Bastien, a Haitian activist in Florida, recently told the Miami Herald. “It’s going to be a disaster for the 58,000 families in the U.S. and a disaster for Haiti. Clearly they are not making decisions based on facts on the ground, but rather politics. This is purely unacceptable.”
Acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke moves forward with John Kelly's original decision to end TPS for Haiti. pic.twitter.com/OM1Y38rnt4
— Tina Vasquez (@TheTinaVasquez) November 21, 2017
In January of this year, the United Nations published a report analyzing how far the Caribbean nation has to go in order to recover — an estimated 2.5 million people were still in need of aid, 55,000 were living in camps, and at least six percent of the country’s population had been infected with cholera.
The majority of those affected by the Trump administration’s decision have lived in the U.S. for over a decade and have established strong roots in the country. As stated in a study by the Center of Migration Studies, “The average length of residence in the United States for the affected population is 13 years. They have 27,000 US-citizen children, while 81 percent of them are employed and 6,200 have a mortgage. The majority live in Florida (32,500), New York (5,200), New Jersey (3,400), and Massachusetts (2,700).”
The termination of TPS protection is just the latest instance of the Trump administration’s determination to target immigrants with justifications that don’t hold up. Two weeks ago, 2,500 Nicaraguans were also stripped of their TPS protection. In September, Trump put an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, putting nearly one million immigrants who entered the United States as children at risk for deportation.