The New York City Council adopted by a vote of 51-0 a resolution urging Congress to pass legislation granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals in the United States. The unanimous vote in favor of Resolution 1595, introduced by Haitian-American Council member Mathieu Eugene, is the latest to reflect a growing sentiment across the United States that Haitians deserve to enjoy the benefits of temporary safe haven while their homeland and its international allies come up with a winning strategy for growth, safety, political stability and poverty reduction.
TPS is a measure enacted as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 that provides temporary relief from deportatin and a work permit to “aliens in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
As we have amply documented and demonstrated in recent months, there is little doubt that Haitians deserve TPS given Haiti’s political upheavals, the catastrophic damages that it suffered last year when four tropical storms hit its frail environment in quick succession, causing an estimated loss of $1 billion, and the extraordinary circumstances that continue to justify a sizable UN Peacekeeping presence. TPS can be granted at the discretion of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. However it is an eminently political decision that usually needs to be vetted by the White House.
Advocates for TPS for Haitians have been encouraged by signs that the White House is listening to their pleas for relief. While DHS has reaffirmed that the US Stance on TPS for Haitians has not changed, it appears to have quietly suspended deportations to Haiti. Advocates report that Haitians apprehended because of immigration violations are released rather than held in custody and forcibly expelled from the US. Yet many remain frustrated that President Obama has uncharacteristically not shown boldness and presidential leadership on a matter that can only earn him brownie points with the public at large. All of the major American newspapers have urged him to grant TPS to Haitians. The major religious, civil rights, human rights and immigrant rights groups have also joined in the call for TPS. And the international community, particularly the Caribbean and Latin America, looks favorably on any American initiative to ensure that Haiti’s prospects for growth and economic development improve.
With NY’s leaders firmly expressing the wish of the majority of its 8 million residents that Haitians be granted TPS, President Obama should do so without further delay.
For further reading on this topic, see:
Obama grants TPS to… Liberians. What about the Haitians?
Bush to Haitians: Nyet on TPS
Haup Calls for TPS at New York City Council Hearing
The Inter-American Dialogue recently held a discussion on TPS and Remittances on Haiti. The talk was led by yours truly and featured Don Kerwin of the Migration Policy Institute and Manuel Orosco of the Dialogue. One click and you can listen to the entire discussion.