The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an natural disaster ravaged their country in 2010, officials said on Monday.
What Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of homeland security, does will be watched closely, not only by Haitians but by others in the Temporary Protected Status program, a lot of them from Central America.
President Donald Trump's administration will end a temporary quasi-amnesty program for nearly 60,000 Haitians, but only after a long delay, senior officials said Monday.
"As you all know, TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status", he said. But if beneficiaries stay in the USA without legal status after TPS ends, they will lose that coverage. Haiti has made "significant progress", the official added.
A Facebook page organizing the protest said they want the Temporary Protection Status renewed for all immigrants from Haiti and Central America while also asking for a "clean" Dream Act for children of immigrants.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced Monday that the Trump administration will extend TPS for Haiti until July 22, 2019, then end it.
But Duke deferred for six months a decision for the much larger group of 57,000 Hondurans living here under the same designation, saying that more time was needed for consideration. Since then, the Caribbean nation has been hit with several hurricanes that left hundreds dead.
TPS for Honduras and Nicaragua are now set to expire on January 5. "This infuriates me, because you have children here now whose parents are on TPS, and what are you going to do about them?".More news: Hariri to visit Egypt, expected return to Lebanon on Wednesday
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Ms Duke chose to terminate the special status after a U.S. review of the conditions in Haiti found the country had made considerable progress, a senior official with President Donald Trump's administration told a briefing.
Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the world. "Haitians sent home will face dire conditions, including lack of housing, inadequate health services and low prospects for employment", Rubio wrote in the Miami Herald.
The Department of Homeland Security has been reviewing, and so far shortening of terminating, the protection known as TPS as expiration dates have come up for immigrant groups given work permits under the program.
For those immigrants, the decision puts them in a hard predicament: If they comply with the new cutoff date, they have to return to their homeland; if they don't and stay, they fall into illegality.
While immigration advocates and Haitians were expecting the news, it was no less devastating.
A decision on 195,000 recipients from El Salvador is expected in January.
A Trump administration official said the delay also provides time for Congress to seek another legal avenue for Haitians nationals to remain. "After all of this time, no conceivable goal is served by upending all of that and ordering them to return to some of the most risky and precarious countries on earth".
According to the DHS, the department can designate a country for TPS when it has been affected by "conditions 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".