Biden accepts temporary protection status for Haitian migrants living in the United States

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Haitian families across the United States celebrate Biden administration decision to spare at least 55,000 people from deportation to their country of origin ravaged by corruption and violence.

decision announced late On May 22, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas covers Haitian migrants living in the United States as of May 21, granting them temporary protected status allowing them to stay and work legally in the United States for at minus an additional 18 months.

In Florida, Haitians were “dancing in the streets” when Mayorkas announced the decision, said Congressman Frederica Wilson, a Democrat who represents neighborhoods north of Miami. “It was so festive – people knew we were in a pandemic and weren’t supposed to hug us, but people were hugging and dancing in the streets, in their masks.

MP Frederica Wilson speaks outside the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami on May 25, 2021, shortly after the Biden administration agreed to protect Haitian refugees living in the United States from deportation.
Lynne Sladky, AP

Migrants arriving after May 21 are not covered, the Homeland Security Ministry said, including those who are to present oneself at the US-Mexico border.

“For Haitians who are in this country, they are now getting a reprieve to have to return to an unstable situation,” said Allen Orr Jr., immigration lawyer and president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “And they get a work permit.”

The ruling overturns a Trump administration-era decision to withdraw the TPS for Haitian migrants, although most deportations were halted by the courts shortly after President Donald Trump attempted to put it down. end of 2018.

An estimated 2,000 Haitians were deported in the months following the inauguration of President Joe Biden, despite his promise to temporarily stop the deportations. Experts said most of the Haitians repatriated during this period were new arrivals across the US-Mexico border who had been deported due to immigration protocols meant to temper the spread of COVID-19.

Immigration rights groups have applauded the TPS designation, which they say better reflects America’s legal, ethical and moral obligation to the world.

“This is who we are as a country: we don’t make people certain of death. It’s just not something we do, ”Orr said. “The concern was fairness, and the fact that we are deporting people to certain death for no reason. The question is, why has it taken so long?”

Allen Orr Jr., Immigration Lawyer and President-Elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association
This is who we are as a country: We don’t make people certain death. It’s just not something we do.

The administration of President Barack Obama first granted TPS status to Haitians in 2010 in the wake of a devastating earthquake that destroyed much of the island nation’s infrastructure, including its roads and airports, killing up to 300,000 people. U.S. taxpayers invested more than $ 2 billion in reconstruction, and nonprofits quickly expanded, battling the cholera and famine that followed.

Nearly a decade later, the Trump administration said Haiti had stabilized enough to warrant returning people to their home countries and, in late 2018, said it was ending TPS for Haitians. Critics have argued that Trump and his administration are ignoring widespread evidence of violence in Haiti.

The Biden administration agreed.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas addresses the media after meeting with Haitian community leaders at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex on May 25, 2021, in Miami.  Mayorkas met with leaders after a new 18-month designation of Haiti for temporary protected status was put in place by the Biden administration.

“After careful consideration, we have decided that we must do what we can to support Haitian nationals in the United States until conditions in Haiti improve so that they can return home safely.” Mayorkas said when announcing the policy. Mayorkas traveled to Miami on Tuesday to discuss the change. with the leaders of the Haitian community.

Pamela White, former US ambassador to Haiti, said it was clear the country remained dangerous, with rampant political corruption, robberies and killings. In March, White and other experts testified before Congress, more than 1,000 people, including 37 police officers, were murdered in Haiti in 2020, along with 65 other people, including three police officers, killed in January and February.

The United Nations has also recorded thousands of human rights violations in Haiti in recent years, including gang violence led by a former policeman.

To make matters worse, there is virtually no COVID-19 vaccine available for the island nation’s estimated 11.3 million people, White said.

Pamela White, former US Ambassador to Haiti
They just can’t take a break because it’s just not sure.

“In fact, Haiti is not doing very well. There is hardly any money in the fund, and they really don’t export anything,” White said. “They just can’t take a break because it’s not safe.

Wilson, whose daughter is married to a U.S. citizen of Haitian descent, said the Biden administration’s decision was a good first step in reversing Trump’s sweeping immigration policy. Wilson said she hoped Biden could secure the passage of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform, giving Haitian migrants a chance to gain the citizenship or permanent legal residency denied to them by Trump.

Wilson said that many immigrants of African descent, including many from Haiti, are still angry that Trump in January 2018 allegedly referred to their country of origin as “shitty country. “

“It was very clear that he had no respect for people of color and didn’t want them in the United States,” said Wilson, who pressured Biden to grant the TPS to Haitians. “This decision, potentially, affects more than 100,000 Haitians living in the United States, who could not sleep at night wondering about their future. These are people who in some cases have lived in this country for many years, decades and since to whom this TPS designation has almost become like a chess match: you win today, but how long does it last? that victory before you have to embark on another challenge with another president? “

Today, Haitian immigrants to the United States have largely been concentrated in Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Boston, immigration experts said. While official estimates put the number of migrants covered by the TPS at 55,000, experts said the number could be three times as high.

Congressman Frederica Wilson
This decision, potentially, affects more than 100,000 Haitians living in the United States, who couldn’t sleep at night wondering about their future.

Patrice Lawrence, co-director of the UndocuBlack network, which advocates for black undocumented migrants, said she and her colleagues are now working to change the way new migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border are treated under Title 42, a public health order used. to deny them asylum due to the spread of COVID-19. She said that while the government accepts that Haitians who already live in the United States should be protected from deportation home, so do those seeking asylum now.

“The United States government is extremely creative and if it wants to do something, it does it,” she said.

Biden’s decision helps clarify that Haitians covered by TPS are allowed to work, a key step in eliminating the daily uncertainty they face, said Carline Desire of the Boston-based company. Haitian Women’s Association, which provides housing, education and training to newly arrived refugees.

Desire, a Haitian immigrant herself, said many Haitians come to Boston because they have family in the area, but also because New England is known as a hub of higher education.

She said clarity about their work status could help Haitian migrants get better jobs: “You have people with doctorates driving taxis.

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