According to Homeland Security, President Donald Trump will end a humanitarian program that offered temporary protections for Haitians who fled to the United States after a earthquake devastated their nation in 2010. The so-called Temporary Protected Status allowed around 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the U.S. Now, Homeland Security says they all need to be out by 2019 or risk deportation.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and immediate questions were raised about the nation being able to survive a sudden influx of nearly 60,000 people. The government had reportedly asked the Trump administration to extend the protected status, since it’s currently relying on money expatriates send back to relatives, according to The New York Times.
The move is doubly hard for parents. An estimated 30,000 children have been born to Haitians who live in the U.S. under the temporary protected status. Those children would be allowed to stay, leaving their parents with a heartbreaking decision to make: take the children back to Haiti, where the situation looks grim; leave the children behind; or stay and take your chances with ICE agents.
The move drew bipartisan criticism from elected leaders who felt the move was unnecessary. A Republican Congresswoman from Florida named Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said she had been to Haiti recently and “can personally attest that Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000 TPS recipients under these difficult and harsh conditions.”
I travelled to #Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and after hurricane Matthew in 2016. So I can personally attest that #Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000 #TPS recipients under these difficult and harsh conditions.
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) November 21, 2017
Her words were echoed by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who said there was “no reason” for the move.
There is no reason to send 60,000 Haitians back to a country that cannot provide for them. This decision today by DHS is unconscionable. And I am strongly urging the administration to reconsider. Ultimately, we need a permanent legislative solution. https://t.co/Ft0bE0itf6
— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) November 21, 2017
Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform which lobbies for restrictions on immigration, disagrees. “The notion that this would be reflexively renewed again and again is a corruption of the entire concept,” he said. “It’s not a refugee program or an immigration program. It’s supposed to be reviewed and it’s supposed to be temporary.