In a recent announcement, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the division of the Department of Homeland Security responsible for processing the majority of immigration applications within the United States, recommended the conclusion of the TPS program for Haitians.
Temporary Protected Status is a temporary humanitarian measure that allows certain foreign nationals to remain and work in the United States for a short period of time. TPS is typically designated for a country when unforeseen harsh or devastating conditions arise that prevent people from safely returning; it may also be designated if the country itself is unable to manage the return of its own citizens. Historically, TPS designations are renewed throughout the duration of the emergency.
Haiti was initially designated for TPS after a catastrophic earthquake struck the country on January 12, 2010. Since then, it has been repeatedly re-designated for TPS, most recently in 2015. That designation ends on July 22, 2017, and without another extension, approximately 50,000 Haitian nationals will be forced to return to Haiti. Currently, Haiti is still recovering from a tragic hurricane that struck the country last fall and is in the midst of one of the world’s worst cholera epidemics.
Less than a week ago, USCIS reminded beneficiaries of the TPS programs for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone that their status would not be renewed as well. According to USCIS, the widespread transmission of the Ebola virus that had cases the TPS designation for these three countries has been controlled.
In the case of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, USCIS had previously announced in September that they would provide a 6-month extension for all TPS beneficiaries so they could wrap up their affairs and depart the country. Thus far, no such firm decision about the end of the program, or a transition period, has been announced for Haiti.
Vivian Salib Crowell, Esq.
Immigration Division Chair