Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly announced Monday that Haitians will be protected from deportation at least until next year under DHS’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation.
The six-month extension continues Haiti’s listing as a TPS country that began in 2011 in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that left at least 100,000 dead and devastated the island nation’s infrastructure. All Haitians in the United States who have been granted the status will continue to be protected by it after July, when it was set to expire.
According to the DHS website, TPS protected aliens “are not removable from the United States,” and are eligible for work authorization for the duration of their stay. “Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States,” the website explains.
Monday’s announcement will extend TPS to all Haitians until January 22, 2018. An additional extension would be necessary beyond that point. Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a pro-American immigration non-profit, estimated around 50,000 Haitians in the United States are currently barred from deportation by TPS.
Secretary Kelly said in a statement accompanying the decision to extend:
Haiti has made progress across several fronts since the devastating earthquake in 2010, and I’m proud of the role the United States has played during this time in helping our Haitian friends. The Haitian economy continues to recover and grow, and 96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps. Even more encouraging is that over 98 percent of these camps have closed.
The statement also made clear it remains DHS policy that those covered under TPS should eventually go home to Haiti. “The Department of Homeland Security urges Haitian TPS recipients who do not have another immigration status to use the time before Jan. 22, 2018 to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States,” the statement reads.
Secretary Kelly added:
I believe there are indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continues at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018. TPS as enacted in law is inherently temporary in nature, and beneficiaries should plan accordingly that this status may finally end after the extension announced today.
CIS’s Vaughan was pleased with the approach. She told Breitbart News:
If the administration is trying to wind down TPS for Haitians, this is a reasonable way to do it, so as to try to avoid the panic, hysteria and disinformation that has accompanied every other reasonable immigration policy change that the administration has made. Renewing it for 6 months gives the Haitians time to plan for their return home, and it gives the administration time to work with Haiti on the return process.
Vaughan compared Kelly’s actions Monday, which could well be a final extension, with previous administration policy:
In the past, at the first hint of any organized campaign on behalf of people with TPS, often coordinated with lobbying from the home country, US presidents have caved in to the pressure and endlessly renewed TPS, making a mockery of its purpose to provide temporary safe haven … Unfortunately, the advocacy groups believe that the 6-month extension was a victory, and that they will be able to pressure Trump into caving just like his predecessors. Instead of urging Haitians to prepare to return, they are urging them to prepare for more protests and more clamoring to ask to stay; unfortunately this instills more of a sense of entitlement to stay that will be harder to overcome.
Dale Wilcox, general counsel of the Immigration Law Reform Institute, a pro-American immigration law firm, echoed that assessement of abuse of the TPS system, telling Breitbart News:
TPS is a perfect example of an open-borders program getting expanded and manipulated until it no longer correlates with Congress’s original intent. It originally applied only to El Salvador, now it applies to about a dozen countries, and DHS consistently renews the grants even when the original problems justifying them have long since subsided.
In the past, congressional Democrats like Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) have long advocated the extended use of executive actions like TPS to prevent deportations of aliens. Former President Barack Obama’s DACA and DAPA were, according to Mark Krikorian, executive director of CIS, largely modeled on TPS. Wilcox warned against the further use of executive power to undermine Congress’s immigration law, telling Breitbart News, “Congress set the program in statute specifically to restrain the Executive that for years had been unlawfully amnestying illegal aliens from threatened countries. Unfortunately, we’re still seeing our democratically enacted immigration laws being abused.”