Immigrant rights advocates are outraged after the Trump administration announced its "cruel and shameful" decision to end a program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to temporarily live and work in the United States since a catastrophic magnitude 7 earthquake ravaged the island nation in 2010.
"America will not be greater or safer by ending this program and attempting to deport those who have made their lives here and are part of the state's economic and social fabric."
—Steven Choi, New York Immigration Coalition
"America will not be greater or safer by ending this program and attempting to deport those who have made their lives here and are part of the state's economic and social fabric," said New York Immigration Coalition executive director Steven Choi, who called the decision "cruel and shameful."
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said this "is another example of the cruel indifference of the Trump administration and its continued efforts to abandon our country's history as a nation of immigrants."
"The country is still struggling to recover from the earthquake and is in no position to receive these individuals who are already making enormous contributions to our country," Gupta added. "Congress must lead where the president has failed and find a permanent solution for Haitians, and other TPS holders, living in our country that allows them to continue contributing to the fabric of our democracy."
Elaine Duke, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said in a statement that "extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist," and Haitians who have been living in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program have until July 22, 2019 to leave the country, or they will face deportation. The announcement follows a decision earlier this month to revoke TPS from about 2,500 Nicaraguans.
It also confirms concerns about the program that have been growing since earlier this year, when the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an arm of DHS, concluded that protections for Haitians were no longer necessary, and former DHS Secretary John Kelly renewed their protected status for a shorter term than normal, warning them to prepare to return to Haiti. These moves by the Trump administration have caused thousands of Haitians to unlawfully cross the border to seek asylum in Canada.
Since the program was established in 1990, the U.S. has granted protections to foreign nationals for a variety of reasons, including ongoing armed conflicts, environmental disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes, and epidemics. About 300,000 people are currently living in the U.S. with TPS, and the countries currently designated for its protections, according to the DHS website, are El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Several advocates for the rights of immigrants and people of color denounced the decision on Twitter:
This is another unconscionable act by this administration. This is another attack on people of color and immigrants. https://t.co/ALD6JQDAod
— Women's March (@womensmarch) November 21, 2017
This is another attack on immigrants and people of color - this is why we are committed to the protection for all undocumented people
— United We Dream (@UNITEDWEDREAM) November 21, 2017
Donald Trump's anti-immigrant agenda in action: Revoking TPS for nearly 60,000 Haitians. This is a cruel decision that does not serve the interests of United States or Haiti. https://t.co/wXgYErAHeZ
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— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) November 21, 2017
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
— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) November 21, 2017
Ending TPS for Haiti is contrary to our values as a city and as a nation. Those Haitians living in Boston and beyond contribute to our economy, our community, and our country. #SaveTPS pic.twitter.com/ujSg6Xlu5Y
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) November 21, 2017
— CASA (@CASAforall) November 21, 2017
Trump terminated TPS for Haiti today. Here's what's at stake by this terrible decision:
- 50,000 working people
- 27,000 US born children
- $23.2 billion lost in US GOP over 10 years.
— Diana Hussein (@heyadiana) November 21, 2017