On November 20, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, which was set to end on January 23, 2018 until July 2019, but then end it permanently. It is important to emphasize that this decision does not renew the status of TPS holders, it only allows them time to either adjust their legal status to remain in the United States or return to their homeland. Although this decision is based on the government’s determination that conditions have improved enough for Haiti to be able to accommodate the return of 58,000 more people, many of us are witnessing a totally different reality on the ground in Haiti: the country is still slowly recovering from the 2010 earthquake, the cholera epidemic that followed it, and the recent devastating hurricanes.
What does an end to TPS for Haitians living in the US really mean? According to Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) Executive Director Eva A. Millona, “the decision has significant implications for Massachusetts, which is home to more than 4,700 Haitians with TPS, who have lived in the U.S. for an average of 15 years. The country is still rebuilding basic infrastructure, and the economy is in tatters. There is simply no way that Haiti can absorb 58,000 people and their families if they are expelled from the U.S. There’s not enough housing. There are not enough jobs”. Moreover, TPS holders have been contributing to the US economy in employment and property taxes; many of them have children who are US citizens, and it is simply not clear what will happen to these small children if their parents end up being sent back to Haiti.
Since the announcement by DHS, several Boston-based community organizations, (The Boston Foundation, in particular) have made public their support of the Haitian TPS holders against the government's decision. Many immigrant organizations in Boston (Haitian-Americans United, Immigrant Family Services Institute, MIRA, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti) have engaged in advocacy work and in making pro bono legal services available to TPS holders as a way to help them with reapplication, to understand options that are available to them with respect to status adjustment, connect with qualify providers to avoid being taken advantaged of by scammers. You can help by doing the following: