Haitian legislator, US group urge Trump to renew TPS for Haitians

NEW YORK (CMC) — A Haitian legislator and a community-based group have launched a petition urging United States President Donald Trump and the US Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians living illegally in the United States

In the petition released on Saturday, New York City Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn-based Haitian-American Council for Unity and Empowerment (HACUE) outlined the challenges facing Haiti including the cholera outbreak, the devastation from multiple natural disasters and efforts to stabilize government institutions.

“We, the undersigned, request that the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, hereby extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti as a humanitarian gesture that will alleviate the country's socioeconomic burden and ease its recovery,” the petition noted.

In an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Eugene said the petition is part of his “ongoing effort to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Haiti while providing Haitians living abroad the opportunity to remain in a stable environment.

“Any country in the world, even a rich country, would find it difficult to recover after several natural disasters,” he said. “I think it makes sense that we, as elected officials and concerned citizens, advocate and work together to insure that the American government and Homeland Security grant TPS to the Haitian people.

“This act will serve as an important gesture of goodwill and sympathy for Haiti as the country continues to recover and rebuild,” he added.

Last month, New York City Council passed a resolution, introduced by Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to the City Council, requesting that the US Secretary of Homeland Security renew TPS for undocumented Haitian nationals.

Earlier this month, Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would dramatically expand the TPS program to include all Haitian nationals who were in the United States prior to November 4, 2016.

Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told CMC that the bill would grant 18 months of TPS to every eligible Haitian.

She said TPS for Haitian nationals living in the United States was established after the January 12, 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti “to start the process of recovery and to provide invaluable support in the form of remittances to family members there.

In November, Clarke had urged the then Obama administration to immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians, stating that “the majority of the people DHS intends to remove have not been accused of any crime.”

Clarke, with 13 of her congressional colleagues, had urged then DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to suspend the removal of Haitian nationals who have not been convicted of a serious crime or otherwise present a threat to US national security.

Earlier, two major Haitian Diaspora groups in New York launched an online petition requesting that Obama also immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians in the wake of the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew.

The Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora launched the petition, saying that they were hoping to build awareness to support it, which, on receiving 100,000 signatures, will require an official response from the White House.

In October, Florida Democratic Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, who represents Fort Lauderdale, sent a letter to Obama, urging him to set a date under Haiti's TPS designation that will account for the effects of Hurricane Matthew on the French-speaking Caribbean country.

On November 22, Johnson said the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which falls under DHS' jurisdiction,planned to “significantly expand removal operations in the coming weeks.”

But, at the time, Johnson said Haitian nationals covered by TPS were unaffected by the resumption of deportation to the French-speaking Caribbean country.

Johnson said TPS for Haitian nationals was been extended through July 22, 2017, he however expressed concern about the increase in the numbers of those who had been apprehended on the southern border.

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