Menendez, Nelson Lead Call Demanding Renewal of Haitian TPS

Menendez, Nelson Lead Call Demanding Renewal of Haitian TPS

 
WASHINGTON, DC – Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) led a group of 16 of their Senate Democratic colleagues today in writing to the Trump Administration to demand there be no delays or suspensions in the renewal of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals living in the United States, which is set to expire on July 22, 2017. Addressed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, the letter comes after press reports last week revealed a leaked memo from USCIS recommending Secretary Kelly not renew TPS for Haitians as part of his  sweeping reforms to  the U.S. immigration and refugee systems.

There are about 50,000 Haitians who are benefitting from TPS currently, which lets them stay in the United States without being targeted for deportation and obtain work authorization after they prove eligibility, pay a processing fee and undergo background checks. TPS has been historically granted to foreign nationals who are unable to safely return to their native country, including Haitians who were displaced after a catastrophic natural disasters struck their home country in 2010.  Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in 2016 and worsened conditions.

“Haiti is ill-equipped to handle the return of the roughly 50,000 Haitian nationals currently receiving TPS,” wrote the Senators. “Given Haiti’s many challenges, the United States’ focus should be to prioritize disaster assistance and recovery, not to return Haitian nationals to a country lacking the capacity to support them.  We ask that you take the urgent humanitarian situation into account when considering extending the TPS designation.”

Along with Menendez and Nelson, the letter was also signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Al Franken (D-Minn), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

A complete copy of the letter is available for download here, and below:

 

 

Dear Secretaries Tillerson and Kelly:

In light of continued difficult conditions in Haiti, we request that you extend the existing

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for certain Haitian nationals currently living in the United States, which is set to expire on July 22, 2017. An extension is necessary to allow Haiti to fully recover from the damage of the January 2010 earthquake and October 2016 hurricane, and to provide security to Haitians living in the United States.

More than seven years after the devastating earthquake and resulting humanitarian crisis, Haiti has yet to recover. That natural disaster left the country shattered, as it caused over 200,000 deaths, injured over 300,000, displaced millions more,  and caused an estimated $7.8 billion in damages. The ensuing cholera epidemic further complicated recovery efforts, as it killed over 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000.   Haiti’s situation remains fragile, and the World Bank notes it is one of the poorest countries in the world and the poorest country in the Americas with a GDP per capita of $846 in 2014.  Indeed, the United Nations will continue to have a presence in the country by replacing its peacekeeping operation with a successor operation: the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti.

Hurricane Matthew only compounded slow recovery efforts. The hurricane made landfall on the Western Coast of Haiti on October 4, 2016, and it brought sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, up to 25 inches in rainfall, and over 10 feet in storm surge. The storm affected 2.1 million people, including nearly 900,000 children, and 1.4 million people required humanitarian assistance.  According to estimates by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other partners studying the damage, the storm caused nearly $2 billion in damage; or roughly

22% of Haiti’s GDP.  The storm virtually guaranteed that Haiti’s post-earthquake recovery will be extended for years to come.  

Haiti is ill-equipped to handle the return of the roughly 50,000 Haitian nationals currently receiving TPS. TPS was created to offer temporary, humane protection to foreign nationals living in the U.S. when extraordinary conditions in their home country pose a serious threat to their personal safety.  We welcomed the previous extension of TPS for Haitian nationals, and we believe the reports of widespread damage and destruction in Haiti make an extended TPS designation appropriate. 

Given Haiti’s many challenges, the United States’ focus should be to prioritize disaster assistance and recovery, not to return Haitian nationals to a country lacking the capacity to support them.  We ask that you take the urgent humanitarian situation into account when considering extending the TPS designation.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.

 

Sincerely,

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