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Trump administration to extend temporary protected status for Haitians
31 May 2017, 04:17 | Grady King
Pierrot Mervilier center rear hugs a girl that did not wish to be identified living in the U.S. with Temporary Protected Status
Immigrant-rights advocates say conditions in Haiti are so rough that they deserve a longer-term protection, but Homeland Security officials said Mr. Kelly was following the strict letter of the law, which says he is supposed to look at the factors that led to the TPS grant in 2010 - in this case, the natural disaster.
DHS officials vehemently denied the allegations, saying decisions about TPS were based exclusively on conditions on the ground in Haiti as set forth by statute.
A DHS spokeswoman previously told the Observer that Kelly has to make a decision on the expiration or extension of TPS by May 23, to allow 60 days for official notification through the Federal Register, the daily publication for rules, notices of federal agencies and organizations, executive orders and other presidential documents.
USA law allows DHS to grant temporary protected status to citizens of countries ravaged by violence, disease and natural disasters. The designation grants beneficiaries the ability to legally work in the United States and apply for travel authorization overseas.
Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the US bishops' Committee on Migration, said he was grateful Kelly and the Trump administration gave the six-month extension, but added, "It still leaves many Haitian families in the United States in an insecure and vulnerable position, particularly with respect to ensuring legal work authorization". Advocates, however, contend that the 2010 quake, the subsequent cholera epidemic and last year's Hurricane Matthew have left the island ravaged.
The Haitians have been protected from deportation since an quake devastated the already-impoverished and unstable island nation in 2010.
In the leaked memo, McCament recommended extending the program for six months, out of a possible 18. The ambassador asked for an 18 month extension in a letter to the DHS Secretary. The Trump administration was facing a deadline this week on whether to extend the status, which was set to expire in July. They said Haitian government officials expressed interest in seeing temporary protected status recipients returning home, where the job and language skills they've acquired could help facilitate development.
"Perhaps another extension will be warranted in six months, but perhaps it won't", a senior DHS official said on a conference call on Monday.
"We are being positive", Sicard said.
Some 930,000 Haitians live in the US, according to the 2013 American Community Survey, the latest year data were available.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which works to limit immigration to the USA, said his reading of Kelly's decision indicates the latest extension is the final one.
Advocacy groups also jumped on the issue after The Associated Press earlier this month published leaked emails from a DHS staffer asking for numbers on crime rates involving Haitian nationals in the us, as well as how many Haitians sought government assistance. Senior department officials on a call Monday with reporters said such statistics did not factor into Kelly's decision nor were they able to provide any such data.
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly renewed the designation May 22. "Yes, you might say that there is a new government; that doesn't mean things are good in Haiti, as a matter of fact, the numbers are there, there is starvation declared and this is based on a United Nations report".
Next up for decisions are Sudan and South Sudan, where TPS expires in November. She said she is inviting Homeland Security officials to visit Haiti to view conditions.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) agreed that Haiti is in no condition to receive the large amount of citizens back in the country.
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