DHS Kelly: Repatriation of Haitians Is Good for Haiti

Photo by Sergi Alexander/Getty Images for Bob Metelus

Foreigners who were given emergency refuge in the United States should go home when their emergency is over, says John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. 

That is a dramatic reversal from prior administrations, which have repeatedly extended the supposedly “Temporary Protected Status” stays of roughly 300,000 Haitians, El Salvadorans, Hondurans and others who have fled since the 1990s from natural and man-made disasters to the United States.

Kelly’s spokesman, David Lapan, highlighted a second dramatic policy change when he said that Kelly recently told Haitian government officials that the return of 50,000 U.S.-based Haitians would be a plus for their homeland. “He talked to them about the fact that a number of Haitians who are living in the United States … have education and skill sets that would be helpful to the country as it continues to rebuild,” Lapan told reporters.

Kelly’s comments show he is trying to build a public case in the United States for returning sheltered foreigners to their homelands, said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies:

It is not necessarily a message directed at the Haitians but is directed at American public opinion to make the case for letting supposedly temporary status finally lapse … [to show that] a lot of the people who will go home will help their country develop… 

The way that this issue is usually framed [by the media] is if the administration lets TPS finally lapse for Haitians, the sob stories will all be about people who have been here for a long time, and ‘Isn’t it terrible and cruel and all of that,’ so [Kelly and his deputies] are probably trying to preempt that narrative.

Overall, U.S. immigration and refugee policies tend to pull the best-educated people out of developing countries, Krikorian said. “Whether from the developing countries of Latin America, Africa or the Middle East, the people who are coming here are the very people that those countries need to develop,” he said. “There are many African countries where the majority if physicians born in that county no longer live there,” he said, adding that there is no well-understood term to describe this process of pulling skilled people out of developing countries for use in wealthy countries, such as the United States.

“There are many African countries where the majority if physicians born in that county no longer live there,” he said, adding that there is no well-understood term to describe this process of pulling skilled people out of developing countries for use in wealthy countries, such as the United States.

Lapan told Breitbart that U.S. officials are trying to build a census of the skills of Haitians and other foreigners living in the United States.

Kelly recently extended the stay for the Haitians until January 2018 but is also telling Haitians they should prepare to return home or else seek alternative legal visas to stay in the United States. “The message is: by definition, TPS is temporary,” Kelly said June 1“They should start thinking now about what will happen in the not-too-distant future, but I don’t want to get into whether it’s going to be extended [again] or not at this point.”

TPS visas were granted in 2010 to roughly 50,000 Haitians by former President Barack Obama after an earthquake hit the undeveloped island. Since then, the Haitians’ TPS status has been extended multiple times by DHS, which had also stopped repatriating illegal alien to Haiti in 2010.

Obama also extended TPS for 60,000 Hondurans who got the status in 1998 because of an earthquake in their home country. Many Liberians who were given TPS in 1991 now have a different form of visa which allows them to remain in the United States until November 2017.

Unless federal officials extend the stays, TPS status for six national groups expires in 2017. TPS for people from seven additional countries — including Somalia and Yemen — will expire in 2018.

Kelly, however, is signaling that he wishes to stop the repeated extensions so the foreigners return to aid their homeland with the skills, business contacts and wealthy that they have accumulated in the United States. “People in my position automatically — without thinking about it very much, apparently — just simply extended it,” Kelly told the Associated Press. “They weren’t taking the same approach to the law as I am.”

In April, Kelly ended TPS status for roughly 5,000 people from the poor West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. The West Africans have been living and working in the United States since the outbreak of Ebola disease in 2014. “The countries had terrible unemployment, terrible economic conditions before Ebola,” Kelly told the Associated Press. “Now they are going back because Ebola is over, but the conditions in the country are the same.”

However, the foreign governments usually prefer to keep their people in the United States, partly because they send large remittances — some of which are derived from taxpayer aid —  back to their home countries. U.S. politicians — especially Democrats — also favor the program, which provides their business and government allies with many low-wage workers and dependent consumers.

However, DHS officials began returning Haitian illegal aliens home in 2016, giving Kelly a Democratic precedent to end the TPS extensions.

“Removal flights from the United States to Haiti have now resumed,” Obama’s DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, said in a November 2016 statement. “In the last several weeks, ICE has removed over 200 Haitian nationals and plans to significantly expand removal operations in the coming weeks.”

Each year, 4 million Americans turn 18 and enter the workforce, where they face job competition from roughly 1 million new temporary contract workers and 1 million legal immigrants, plus roughly 500,000 new illegal immigrants.


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